Report: 1,600 children in New Mexico lost caregiver to COVID-19 | Local news
Report: 1,600 children in New Mexico lost caregiver to COVID-19 |  Local news

Report: 1,600 children in New Mexico lost caregiver to COVID-19 | Local news

About two years into the coronavirus pandemic, childcare experts are struggling with the long-term effects that the virus will have on an entire generation of children.

Over 1,600 children in New Mexico lost a parent or caregiver to the virus at a rate of 341 per year. 100,000, according to a study published by COVID Collaborative in December.

New Mexico had one of the highest numbers of children experiencing the loss of a COVID-19 caregiver in the country, along with Arizona, Mississippi and Texas.

In all, 167,000 children in the United States lost a caregiver to COVID-19. More than 72,000 of these children lost a parent, while over 67,000 lost a grandparent and more than 13,000 children lost their sole caretaker.

Caregiver losses for Native American children in New Mexico were more than 10 times greater than for white children. A total of 774 Native American children in the state lost a caregiver to the virus at a rate of 1,449 per year. 100,000 compared to 137 at a rate of 122 per. 100,000 for white children, according to the study.

And health experts warned deaths could have long-term consequences for a child.

According to Child Care Center in New Mexicothey are five times more likely to die of suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to engage in substance abuse, and are 20 times more likely to have behavioral health disorders.

Pediatricians are seeing a significant increase in mental health problems caused by loss of loved ones and interruptions in daily routines, according to the New Mexico Pediatric Society.

Jade Richardson Bock, CEO of the mourning center, said the organization aims to change the likelihood of these negative outcomes.

“Negative outcomes are highly likely after a significant loss that our entire society has been through, but it does not have to be our story,” Richardson Bock said. “If we come together and acknowledge the reality of the loss, if we express our feelings honestly and find a way to remember and commemorate them, we can actually come out stronger from this experience.”

While most children will be able to process their grief with the support community and family support, some experts say 5 to 10 percent will experience traumatic, long-term ailments that may require clinical intervention.

Richardson Bock said that sudden changes spurred on by the pandemic, such as losing a home or not being able to see loved ones, can also lead to some form of grief.

According to the New Mexico Pediatric Society, pediatricians have experienced a significant increase in mental health problems caused by interruptions in daily routines over the past two years.

“Children are obviously very active and very social, so it has been difficult for them not to be able to see friends and schoolmates,” said Alexandra Cvijanovich, chair of the community board. “Returning to a normal school routine has helped, but the mental health problems caused by the pandemic may have long-term consequences that parents will have to address with their pediatricians.”

The COVID Collaborative study recommends setting up public education campaigns that encourage families to seek help and connect them to community resources, expand social and emotional learning programs, and create a fund for coronavirus survivors.

The Foundation can provide short-term financial assistance and support the mental health and other needs of children who lost a caregiver due to COVID-19.

Richardson Bock said families and community leaders can help by letting children see them process their emotions in a healthy way.

“We’ve been trained for so long to hide our feelings and get the job done, but really something we can do that is even more powerful is to have those real feelings and let the kids see us being sad, angry, confused. or scared. “, said Richardson Bock.

Efforts have already been made to support the mental well-being of New Mexico’s youth throughout the pandemic.

Organizations like the Children’s Grief Center in New Mexico offer peer support groups, free specialty workshops, nationwide training programs, and other resources to help people of all ages deal with grief.

The organization brings a traveling youth program to rural areas throughout the state known as Camp Corazon.

While the annual camp was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, Richardson Bock said she hopes to bring it back in the near future.

The state and federal governments have made investments in dealing with mental health problems caused by coronavirus.

By 2021, New Mexico received nearly $ 108 million in emergency aid, which would be distributed to school districts to safely reopen them and meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Under the U.S. Rescue Plan, primary and secondary school relief funds were required to use some of these funds to invest in social and emotional learning.

Carlsbad Municipal School awarded nearly $ 240,000 to make an assessment and provide students and staff with mental health services.

The district also gave students and teachers mental health days, giving them extra days off to decompress from the thrill of going to school during a pandemic.

Richardson Bock said she hopes people can use the trauma that came from the pandemic to value the good things in their lives and value each other more.

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