Grieving the loss of a loved one, teen suicide and effects on schools and health care workers were highlighted during a COVID-19 panel discussion Sept. 25 in Carlsbad.
Deacon Tony Dominguez of San Jose Catholic Church, Permian Basin Counseling Regional Director D’Nae Johnson, Associate New Mexico AARP Director Gary Williams, Carlsbad Municipal Schools (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn and Carlsbad Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Nick Arledge spent nearly two hours talking about the effects of COVID-19 and possible solutions at the Leo Sweet Community Center.
“I thought it was good. I thought a lot of good information got put out there,” said Washburn.
“I think it’s good to hear the different perspectives. We’re all trying to navigate something that just seems to continue to go on and on.”
Washburn said CMS dealt with a number of issues since March 2020 when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Eddy County and New Mexico.
“When the kids were all remote (learning) we had a huge spike in kids threatening self-harm and depression. We’ve seen that thankfully go down a little bit,” he said.
During the 2021/2022 academic year, Washburn said CMS officials noticed students struggling with classroom situations.
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“Just getting reacquainted and understanding how to navigate peer relationships. I think those are our big things,” he said.
COVID-19 struggles were not limited to young people, Williams indicated, he said social isolation was a problem for senior citizens.
“Social isolation is equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Individuals are cut off from services,” he said.
He said social engagement for seniors in a safe and social environment was a key component during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What are we doing as a society to allow for individuals to reenter the workforce? Those environments where social engagements occurs and what attention are paying to ensuring where individuals express concerns such as coming out today to actively participate in this panel discussion?” Williams asked.
Johnson urged people to reach out if they are depressed or have suicidal thoughts.
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Permian Basin Counseling opened nearly four months ago in Carlsbad and Mayor Dale Janway said the services were set up by the Permian Strategic Partnership (PSP) as an opportunity for more counseling services for the community.
“PSP is a coalition of 17 leading Permian Basin energy companies who joined together to work in partnership with leaders across the region’s communities to address current and future challenges to the responsible development of the vast oil and natural gas resources of the Permian Basin in the states of New Mexico and Texas,” stated the PSP website.
Dominguez said one-to-one faith counseling was offered to those who sought it.
He said if San Jose Catholic Church or any other place of worship does not have answers people are looking for, they will be referred to an agency that does.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.