Teens Anxious About Taking the Mask Off at School

Health & Fitness

  • Author Arastou Aminzadeh
  • Published September 23, 2022
  • Word count 527

With mask mandates dropping across the country, it may come as a surprise that not everyone is excited about going maskless. Some teens, in fact, are experiencing anxiety over the idea of going to school without their facemask. Why is that?

It seems that young people have become so accustomed to wearing a mask since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that going without one now is creating some real discomfort. Read on to learn about the reasons why some teenagers are not comfortable with dropping their masks.

Why Teens Are Nervous About Going Maskless?

While surprising that some teens might actually prefer to wear a mask at school, there are some interesting explanations for this. Consider these reasons why teens are anxious about taking their masks off at school:

They worry about being judged. One of the reasons teens are not crazy about removing their masks is that wearing them has helped them fit in and feel accepted. While conforming to their peers as a form of solidarity, teens felt safe. Removing the mask causes some to worry about being judged, or accused of aligning with the unpopular political viewpoints.

They are concerned with appearance. The teen years have always stoked feelings of self-consciousness about body image. In a way, wearing a facemask provided cover to perceived facial flaws, such as complexion problems. Some teens may feel insecure about exposing their faces after so many months of covering up.

They have social anxiety. For kids that struggle with social anxiety, wearing a mask was a gift. Social anxiety features an intense fear of being judged or embarrassed in public—especially by peers. Having a mask on, these teens were able to hide expressions that might reveal any anxiety they might feel during the school day.

They worry about getting sick. There are still lingering worries about the virus itself. After being mandated to wear the mask as a safety measure against catching COVID-19 for so long, teens may feel some trepidation about sitting in crowded classrooms without this protection.

About Teen Anxiety

There is no disputing that the pandemic has spurred anxiety among teens. While anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety were already plaguing our teens, the pandemic only seemed to increase the prevalence.

Parents should be on the lookout for the signs of anxiety in their teens. Even though the crisis appears to be waning now, there is definitely some fallout—including the anxiety about taking the masks off at school.

Signs of anxiety include:

Intense feelings of worry, dread, and fear that are irrational

Extreme irritability


Mood swings


Muscle tension


Gastrointestinal distress


Insomnia; bad dreams


Racing heart


Trouble concentrating

Help your teen adjust to school life without a mask. If your teen is showing signs of anxiety due to masks being optional at school, you can help them process the adjustment. Suggest they continue wearing their mask inside the classroom for a while longer if they feel safer doing so, but encourage them to try walking around the school grounds without the mask. Slowly but surely they will feel more confident going maskless.

Dr. Aminzadeh has been working in variety of clinical settings for the last 20 years. He is well respected nationally for his expertise in Addiction medicine and treating adolescents. Dr A. is a triple board certified physician in psychiatry, Child and Adolescent psychiatry and Addiction medicine.


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