APS counselor weighs in on children’s mental health after COVID-19
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health, more than a quarter of children in America are depressed, and more than 20% deal with anxiety.
Albuquerque Public Schools counselor Leia Viscarra says the pandemic caused more children to be on social media.
“They’re going through a lot, coming back from the pandemic. The trauma that our kids deal with, a lot of issues that social media has brought about,” said Viscarra.
The latest data from our state’s health department reveals two out of five New Mexico high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless, and one out of every six experienced severe depression.
And, with New Mexico having the fourth-highest rate of suicide in 2020, more resources are coming into schools to remove the stigma of mental health, and to make talking about it normal.
“Recently, I’ve done our suicide prevention lessons. I’ve done lessons on bullying. And so, and then, offering just resources,” Vicarra said.
Help is as easy as dialing 988 – a mental health hotline that will connect a child with a peer or a fellow student who’s trained to provide support in any way necessary.
“A lot of times what we know is our kids will talk to peers before they’ll talk to an adult. And so peer helpers are trained in a way that it’ll get students to talk to them,” said Viscarra.
One of the greatest forms of trauma among teens is from gun violence. 6% of high school students reported carrying a gun to school in the past year, and 44% of students report living in a home with a gun.
That’s why Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wants to expand a program to get a handle on the number of teens falling victim to gun violence called the VIP into every metro high school.
“I think we should have it in every high school in our city,” said Keller.
That will be discussed in the upcoming legislative session in January.