The weight of Covid-19 on Black youth

(News4usonline) – The impact of Covid-19 on the population K-12 has been huge.When it comes to mental health or the well-being of students in that age category the pandemic has been a relentless adversary. 

According to a report put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adolescent and School Health, Covid-19 weighed a heavy toll on today’s youth. 

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More than a third (37.1 percent) of the students surveyed reported that their mental health was mostly negative during the pandemic. The areas proving to be extremely challenging were in the areas of focus and abuse. A great deal of the surveyed students (66.6 percent) found it to be hard to do their schoolwork. 

While the number is a lit lower, over half of reported students found themselves dealing with forms of verbal abuse during the pandemic. Several other areas highlighted in the report illustrated the difficulty of young people trying to understand the impact of Covid-19. 

Nearly a quarter of young people experienced going hungry (23.8 percent) during the range of Covid-19. Another 28.2 percent said that they found spending time with family, extended family and friends to be a rarity. Yet another sector of the population (28.5 percent)  saw their parents or other adults in their home lose their places of employment.  

These myriad of factors played a major part in the mental health of youth. Almost half (44.2 percent) of the young people surveyed said they felt sad of hopeless. Another 31 percent reported that their mental health was poor or not good most of the time. Thoughts of suicide penetrated the mindset of 19.9 percent of students studied.

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“These data echo a cry for help,” CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H said in a released statment. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing. Our research shows that surrounding youth with the proper support can reverse these trends and help our youth now and in the future.”

For Black or African American students taking part in the report, the numbers are more staggering. African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the population in the United States. Yet, the number of Black students that went hungry during the pandemic was put at 32 percent, the CDC Adolescent and School Health report states. That’s more than double of Black people living in this country. 

Another troubling statistic about the challenges Black students encountered during the pandemic was how difficult it was for this group of individuals to do classwork. The long-term isolation did a work on Black students as 67.7 percent stated that they found it hard to do their schoolwork. 

With nearly 25 percent (24.9) of these students reporting that their parents or an adult in their homes lost jobs during the pandemic, this as well as other factors play a part in the number of individuals feeling mentally good. 

Twenty-eight percent of Black or African American adolescents reported that their mental state was poor or not good. Angles of mental health they dealt with include depression, anxiety and stress. In more detail, the mental health of Black and/or African American adolescents. 

Nearly 40 percent (39.7) of Black or African American youth felt sad or hopeless with just 16 percent having serious thoughts of taking their own lives.   

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) offered another glimpse into how the pandemic has had devastating consequences for Black children or on youth of color. According to a KFF 2021 report, 42 percent of Black students between 5-17, fell behind academically. Another 36 percent felt like they fell behind in their social and emotional development.  

Another sector playing out in the mental health arena is parents stressing out or having anxiety in trying to find childcare needs. The same KFF study revealed that 53 percent of Black parents experienced having an employment disruption due to looking for childcare needs.   

“Kids of color have long faced barriers to mental health care in areas of prevention, access to care, quality treatment and mental health outcomes. The onset of COVID-19 has only increased that burden on kids of color,” according to Dr. Sarah Jerstad, associate clinical director of psychological services at Children’s Minnesota St. Paul Hospital in an article posted on Children’s Minnesota.  

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