Haaland Holds Roundtable on Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

October 16, 2020
Press Release

Albuquerque, N.M. – This week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) held a mental health roundtable with local experts. During roundtable, Congresswoman Haaland discussed the importance of addressing mental health in the midst of the added challenges the global health crisis has added to families. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gaps in the healthcare system, mental healthcare being one of the highest among them.

“With millions of people out of work and cut off from their families and normal community activities, the potential for a mental health crisis is very real. What concerns me the most about this is mental healthcare access for some of our most vulnerable citizens, such as the homeless, seniors, and veterans. And young people and children, who are seeing their lives and plans disrupted, could be struggling and unsure of where to go, or how to ask for help,” said Congresswoman Haaland during the Roundtable discussion.

Haaland was joined by Jessica Hidalgo Holland, Director of the UNM Women’s Resource Center, Lisa Lindquist, Director of LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center, Dr. Stephanie D. McIver, Director of Counseling Services at Student Health & Counseling, UNM, Dr. Dawnita Blackmon-Mosley, Child and Family Development Division Manager, City of Albuquerque Family and Community Services, Dr. Lorraine Torres-Sena, Director, Behavior Health Care Line at the New Mexico VA Healthcare System, Jenny Metzler, CEO of Healthcare for the Homeless, Adam Vareika, Behavioral Health Clinical Director, Dr. Robert Chang, Director of Behavioral Health, Albuquerque Indian Health Center, and Tracy Sanchez, Lieutenant Commander, USPHS. The experts explained how access to telehealth, regular doctors appointments, and the added stressors from the pandemic are impacting New Mexicans who struggle with substance abuse disorders, depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental and behavioral health challenges.

“At the beginning of the Pandemic, we in the Mental Health field anticipated an escalation in the already climbing numbers of anxiety disorders, depression and suicidality noted across other Higher Education institutions in the US. What we did not anticipate was the prolonged shutdown and the addition of the Racism Pandemic (coined by the President of the APA). This has created a mental health crisis, not just for students, but for all our citizens, like we've not seen before,” said Dr. Stephanie D. McIver

“COVID 19 has not only been challenging for families, the work force and the economy, it is taking its toll on the mental health and the social-emotional well-being of children. Everything children have known and have grown accustomed to and have even found comfort in has changed. The best way to support a child’s social-emotional well-being during these challenging times is to work at restoring as much normalcy to their daily routines as possible. We can do this by fostering warm and nurturing environments that establishes and follows schedules and routines, provides encouragement and reassurance and supports the development of self-regulation skills. These are essential components for supporting a child’s mental health and social-emotional well-being during these trying times,” said Dr. Dawnita Blackmon-Mosely.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of the Freshman Working Group on Addiction, voted to pass a bipartisan bill to support families struggling with addiction in September. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act, led by U.S. Representatives David Trone (MD-06) and Dan Meuser (PA-09) would create a $25 million grant program to help national and local nonprofit organizations provide services for families impacted by addiction.