2020 was a difficult year to say the least with the pandemic, racial injustice, the increase of violence and many of our children not being able to attend school in person. Though our children and youth have been able to spend more time with their parents or primary caregivers, many are grieving the loss of peer interaction, social connection, and time spent in person with other vital, caring adults in their lives, such as extended family, educators, therapists, neighbors, and other community members. It was a year of grief and loss of family members as well as a life-style change, being with friends, being on the playground, dating, prom, and graduation. A year of trauma.
So, given all we experienced in 2020, what should be the priorities to address in 2021? Besides COVID-19 vaccinations, immediate needs in racial inequities, housing stability, education, supporting the children at our borders, and the accompanying trauma and mental health impacts on our children and youth should be first on the list. Though many of the issues are sadly not new, more is being learned daily about the toll of the pandemic and racial injustice events on the mental health of everyone; we must ensure children, youth, and young adults are a priority for supports. Depression, anxiety, and suicide among these ages groups has increased over 25% in the past year, while domestic violence and gun violence has increased 31% in the past year. And it stands to reason that both gun violence and domestic violence has a traumatic impact on those who witness, live with, or have been victimized by either.