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NIHCM Newsletter / September 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic & Mental Health

Mental Health: Kids, Teachers and Parents

The extent to which the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic is affecting children’s mental health and emotional well-being is dependent on factors such as pre-existing mental-health problems, personal loss and stress in their family. Young people need mental health support in the pandemic:

Stress is contagious, and addressing children’s needs during this uncertain time also means supporting adults. This school year brings a unique set of challenges for teachers, and their mental health needs should be considered in the reopening of schools.

Parents reported feeling anxious, abandoned and overwhelmed facing this school year, as just one in seven parents say their children will be returning to school full time this fall. However, parents need to look after their own mental health while safeguarding their children’s.

Support for parents:

Economic Challenges & Public Health

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying economic downturn, has placed a spotlight on the housing affordability crisis in the United States and renewed conversations about the impact of housing instability on health and health equity.

The rise in unemployment has also left individuals and families facing new challenges for accessing and affording food.

  • A new report from The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice illustrates the evolving impact that the pandemic has on food and housing insecurity among college students.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Pillsbury United Communities and North Memorial Health launched a "food as medicine" pilot program that provides personalized weekly grocery packages - delivered by community paramedics - to vulnerable community members that are high-risk for COVID-19.
  • NIHCM’s infographic explores the evolving state of food insecurity in America and looks at how poverty, access to transportation, housing and social isolation can impact an individual's access to nutritious food.
  • NIHCM convened a panel of experts on a webinar to discuss the issues impacting food security and how these challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Race and Health: Before and During COVID-19

The deadliness of racial inequality is illustrated in a recent analysis that found an additional 1 million white Americans would die this year if their life expectancy fell to the best-ever levels recorded for Black Americans (2014 levels). Racial health disparities before and during the pandemic stem, in large part, from long-standing systemic racism that harms the health of Black and Latino Americans.

Solutions & resources:

Environmental Health & Justice

The environment impacts health, and air pollution alone is responsible for over 100,000 deaths in the US per year and 4.2 million world-wide. Researchers suggest that air pollution has significantly worsened the health outcomes from the pandemic and potentially led to more deaths.

  • Investigations into the impact of redlining illustrate how residents that were effectively segregated into different neighborhoods based on race now face greater health risks than individuals living where redlining did not occur.
  • NIHCM’s recent webinar brought together experts to discuss how environmental racism impacts communities and share evidence-based solutions and community initiatives that are addressing these challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  • NIHCM produced an infographic on air pollution in America and the unequal impact it has on Black and Latino communities.

The ongoing fires in California have placed a spotlight on the intersection of air quality, safety and COVID-19. Years of suppressing fires has only worsened California's wildfire risk. Now, in response to a growing threat, government officials are looking to and partnering with tribal leaders to implement traditional, Native American controlled-burning practices.


COVID-19 Testing Competition

A group of health plans and organizations have come together to sponsor a competition for creating a better coronavirus testing program that will inform safe reopenings.

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