Even in 2023 the destructive echoes of COVID-19 can still be felt in the American healthcare system. Hospitals, daycares, community centers, you name it, (and you remember) that everything was closed or short staffed. Thankfully, the comradery of all our local communities was able to fill in the gaps that official bodies could not. Identifying the problems in existing systems is the first step to making a better one.
The Situation: An already lacking social worker force has become more strained than ever because of the destruction of COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic can still be felt to this day. In 2020, for example, New York City dealt with a wave of homelessness, filled medical institutions, and a lack of proper assistance.
“Before the pandemic, the DOE employed only one full-time social worker for every 648 students attending public schools, a ratio more than twice as high as what is recommended by the National Association of Social Workers.”
With a strained system, the city was bound to disaster, but New York wasn’t the only place that had their limits tested. The whole world seemed like it was about to end when the morale and toilet paper was dwindling. Lockdowns became more strict and did not allow for facilities such as daycares and hospitals to be properly staffed, sanitized and maintained. All of this combined into an environment that hardly supported a social structure for societal development and health.
The Social Strain: COVID-19 is more than a physical illness. The epidemic caused an upheaval of many health care and social workers, leaving many out of work and some even on the street. Recent legislation to end the public health emergency for COVID in Mayonly shows a stance that has no concern for the communities that were damaged.
“Although the emergency declarations will remain in place until spring, the federal response to the pandemic has already been scaled back as funding has dried up. Congress has failed for months to pass a White House request for $22.5 billion in additional funding for the Covid response.”
Stressed and overworked healthcare staff can’t keep up with the high demand. “Deaths have dropped dramatically since the pandemic peak during winter 2021, but nearly 4,000 people are still succumbing to the virus every week.”
All of these factors add up to creating a system that is bound to fail its people and its standards.
The Solution: The lack of government aid has forced local citizens to take charge and make real change. It’s understandable that communities around the world are demoralized because of the mental health crisis and its apparent lack of support. But at the most recent State of the Union address, President Biden announced to increase funding towards teacher wages, school infrastructure and an attempt to ban assault weapons. This is an incredible step in the right direction, but this is not enough to help the current impoverished communities. In our opinion, to make real change is to take charge ourselves.
Lead4Life’s services and volunteer programs help local communities around the State but what can YOU do to help? Well, we can all start by recognizing that March is Social Workers Month. Help raise awareness to all of the social workers out there making a difference by using social media to tag, share and spread the word of your local organizations that are making a huge difference in our lives.
The pandemic changed the social dynamic of our youth dramatically with huge consequences. An emphasis on staying home and social distancing bred higher levels of mental illness in our youth than any other generation. Making up for the losses in our system as a community is the best way to move forward.
“Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.” –WHO
Human nature and community will overcome the challenges it’s thrown against. Recent change in legislation is a pleasant surprise after a period of worldly distress. Although COVID’s effects are still felt today, promising changes for the future are around the corner.
You can make change in your community with Lead4Life.
At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.