Challenges for pediatric populations amid COVID-19.
The news is flush with attention to the social determinants of health (SDoH) and social determinants of mental health (SDoMH). COVID-19 has only amplified society’s health disparities, which will translate to greater funding needs to bridge care gaps and enhance outcomes. The pediatric population faces a double whammy, between the SDoH combined with the pandemic. Here are some concerning facts:
- One in five children live in poverty, which puts them at grave risk of developing health issues, plus costly chronic illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes.
- With the pandemic prompting school closures, children in at-risk communities and those most impacted by COVID-19 have lost their access to not only education, but also nutrition, typically accessed through available meal programs.
- Socialization, so vital to support attainment of proper growth and development, has been dramatically limited. Children are also more at risk of developing mental health conditions, from anxiety and depression to substance abuse. These are pressing concerns, which can include exacerbation of depression, anxiety, significant grief following the death of family members and friends, and other losses. A new generation of post-traumatic stress disorder patients is emerging, as many are witnessing heightened levels of family violence and abuse.
- Many children have also lost the extra guidance and support of critical staff: teachers, social workers, psychologists, and counselors. These professionals closely monitor for abuse, neglect, and exploitation, plus domestic violence and human trafficking. My social work gut is screaming at the thought of so many children, adolescents, and their families being at risk for the rise in incidence of abuse and neglect that is emerging, to include:
- A 22-percent increase in sexual abuse, with 67 percent of reporters under 18 identifying the perpetrator as a family member, with 74 percent of them living in the home.
- States indicating 60-70-percent increases in abuse reports.
- The United Nations estimates a 20-percent rise in interpersonal violence across the globe – and this is the one social determinant identified by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last fall that providers consistently ask about most.
While all populations experience significant challenges across the social determinants, children remain among those most vulnerable populations requiring clear attention. Our latest Monitor Mondays survey affirmed this fact. View the survey results here.
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