We Must All Support Children
Written by Dr. Janis Gonzales, originally published in Santa Fe New Mexican. Shared with permission by the author.
Over the past few weeks, pediatricians have been trying to raise awareness about the steep decline in vaccination rates that we have been seeing as parents cancel well checks and babies go months without being seen by a physician.
But there is an equally alarming problem, one that also goes unseen and has remained largely under the radar while the news focuses on the more sensational COVID-19 headlines. The changes that have occurred in the lives of young children have been vast, and we really have no idea what the long-term outcomes will be.
Children of all ages have been asked to adjust to a completely different way of schooling, while still being expected to advance academically and developmentally as if nothing had changed. For young children in particular, the social isolation and loss of the loving and calming presence of adults in their lives, including teachers, caregivers and grandparents, may have consequences we are only beginning to understand.
Mental health professionals statewide and across the country are reporting an increase in stress, depression, anxiety and of course fear. It is critical that we recognize the mental health toll this disruption is taking on our children and protect their emotional well-being as much as possible. Children need a strong socioemotional foundation if they are going to succeed cognitively and developmentally.
We all must do our part to support the children in our lives to navigate this new world in a way that supports and nourishes them and helps build resiliency, and to do what we can to prevent adverse childhood experiences from occurring. This will require deliberate attention, time and investment to provide the supports and services that will ensure children can successfully navigate and even thrive during this pandemic. Even in these times of economic uncertainty, we cannot afford to decrease our investment in children.
Dr. Janis Gonzales, M.P.H., F.A.A.P., is a pediatrician in Santa Fe and the president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society.
President's Perspective, a continuation and call to action by Jen Bartz.
We’re all concerned about the ongoing and enormous needs individuals and businesses are facing in this current crisis. How can we help? It’s easier to see a solution to a smaller problem, but when things get complicated and change so rapidly, we can feel paralyzed.
I believe that it will take everyone doing everything they can to meet the needs around us. It means all people have to decide what is important to them and reach out. From those suffering from abuse, people going hungry, joblessness, businesses closing doors permanently, people dying suddenly, losing months of time recovering from an awful illness, the medically vulnerable, children, depression and anxiety, international countries in dire situations….the list travels to wrap around the world. Seek out nonprofits that work in the communities and needs that matter most to you. Maybe you have an idea or expertise or point of view that needs to be explored. Maybe you can offer your time, connections, or money to help further their work. If you can’t find a solution that handles the problem you’re seeing, contact a closely related nonprofit and see if they can help get you started on beginning your own work!
What does that mean for all of us? It means a huge time investment, it means spending hours and hours trying to come up with plans that meet the unique needs you are witnessing. It means giving sacrificially (whether it’s money, time, or connections), to meet the need. It means not wasting time grumbling and complaining, but putting that time to good use. You are a part of the solution! You can bring hope and blessing to a weary world. You have something unique and valuable to offer. You can make a difference!
To read more articles in the Santa Fe New Mexican and to see the published version, please go here.