Virtual seminar to discuss pandemic and mental health | Local News

Dr. Kristina Sowar, professor and child psychiatrist at the University of New Mexico, is expected to speak at a virtual seminar Tuesday on how the pandemic has affected New Mexicans.

Sowar said the conference, hosted by the Santa Fe chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will also focus on resilience and self-care.

The effects of the pandemic include increased stress and anxiety, feelings of isolation, more drug addiction and eating disorders, Sowar said.

“Some people probably have better building blocks to support resilience,” she said. “But we know for a lot of people, [there have] increased anxiety levels. “

While national research on mental health during the pandemic is available, Sowar said, researchers at UNM are still working to collect local data.

When it comes to people seeking professional help, she added, “we know anecdotally that the numbers are on the rise in New Mexico.”

In the United States, for most of 2020, the proportion of mental health-related trips to emergency departments increased by 24% among children aged 5 to 11 and by 31% among children aged 12 to 17. , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sowar said she hoped the pandemic would serve as a wake-up call about the need for more mental health care options in New Mexico.

“We have outpatient services and inpatient services, but we don’t have intermediate steps that people can go to if they are really struggling but are not so acute that they need to be at home. hospital, ”she said.

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