She said that her dad was a funny man who had many friends in his local neighborhood. He likes to hike, go to movies and to the gym.
On April 28, 2020, Julian Pena, her father, died from COVID at the age of 50 in a Bronx hospital.
Maxin Beltran is Natasha's mom and is studying to become a nurse. She told Susan Spencer that the nurse who called her said it was very bad. They ran out of ventilators. They said that they had to take him out. They then removed him. And .... That was it.
Maxin, crying, said that she didn't know what to tell Maxin, so she had to.
"How did she tell you?" Spencer was curious.
"I had to tell her the daycare lady so she could help me tell her."
Natasha was unable to visit him in the hospital. "So, you never got the chance to say goodbye?" Spencer asked.
They both feel the loss of being able say goodbye. Natasha stated, "I thought it was my fault that dad died." "Cause I was there for him if I would have spoken to him."
Spencer stated, "That's an awful thing to try and live with."
"It wasn’t your fault."
Maxin said, "It wasn’t, baby."
Arthur C. Evans, Jr., a psychiatrist, is the head of the American Psychological Association. He says that unresolved grieving is only one part of the widespread mental health problems caused by the pandemic.
Spencer asked Spencer: "How do you undo the loss of a father to a 10-year old girl who can't even get to the hospital to say good-bye?"
Evans responded, "It's not about undoing. It's about how we help children deal with those situations." "We are seeing an increase in the number of children who go to emergency rooms for psychiatric distress. Overdose is a leading cause of death in the United States. We saw over 100,000 deaths last year. The number of people suffering from anxiety and depression is increasing at four times the rate than before the pandemic.
A country divided on many issues, nine out of ten Americans agree that the U.S. is in a "full-blown mental health crisis" according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.
Spencer asked Spencer, as the masks were being taken off, "Would it be possible for the mental health situation also to improve as the virus recedes?"
Evans replied, "No." It's going to be with us. We know that people will experience problems after these types of traumas, such as those following 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.
"So, are you really talking about a second epidemic?"
He said, "We are, because it is clear that the number of people affected is clearly at the pandemic scale."
Natasha Beltran tells Natasha Beltran her story with one terrible number: 140,000 children lost their parents or caregivers to COVID.
It can be difficult to find help for these children. Natasha stated that it was difficult to find a child's therapist who is covered by your insurance. "I couldn’t find anyone. I am a single mother; she doesn't have a dad. I don't have anyone to help me or someone that could contribute.
Evans stated that in most areas of the country, children are experiencing significant delays in receiving the help they need. This is not only a matter of weeks but also months. That would be unacceptable, if our children had cancer and were told they couldn't see a doctor for at least four months.
California could be changing that. Tony Thurmond, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction, oversees the state's education system, which has more than 6.3 millions students. He said that "every school I visit, I hear one thing: We need more resources. We need more counselors.
Thurmond has a bold bill in the legislature. Its purpose is to create a pipeline of additional 10,000 mental health professionals in California's school system over the next few years.
Spencer said, "I noticed you quote somewhere that says, 'This way we can leave a significant mark.'" Spencer asked, "I saw you quote somewhere as saying, 'This is the way where we can leave an important mark.'"
Thurmond stated, "Job number 1 has to be attending our social-emotional learning requirements of our children." "I think that's what we should leave as a legacy."
New York's Beltrans were left without any help for months until they came across The Children's Village.
Spencer asked Daphne Torres Douglas, the vice president of behavioral healthcare services, to explain that "we're always hearing all day, 'Oh! kids are so resilient.
Torres Douglas stated, "Resilience does not take away trauma." "We have to acknowledge that they are hurting."
The Children's Village offers counseling at no cost. Torres Douglas said, "We see a lot young people suffering from the loss of family members." "And we see young adults not being able to cope. We also see adults who don't know how to help them."
They were accompanied by the social worker who was assigned to them by Beltrans. Spencer asked them: "What was it that attracted you to the social worker?"
Maxin said, "Oh, so many," Maxin said, "It's her energy. So positive, so calming. It's like, "I understand what your going through and I'm here to help."
"You felt like she could talk to you"
"Yeah," Natasha replied.
Torres Douglas replied that the Beltrans were doing well when she was asked. They may take a while to get there, but that's OK. They'll be fine as long as they have each other and are connected to one and the same, and support one another.
Natasha Beltran, two years later is ready to embrace this optimistic outlook.
Spencer asked: "Natasha? A lot of children have lost their parents or caregivers. What would you say to them?
She replied, "It's your fault."
"You will never stop missing him."
"But that's okay."