COVID-19 has led to more job losses and worsened mental health for refugees in San Diego – NBC 7 San Diego
As San Diego prepares to welcome more refugees from around the world, new research from UC San Diego shows the key challenges refugees have faced during the pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in far more job losses and worsening mental health for refugees in San Diego.
“We saw that people in the refugee community had about 30% higher job losses than people reported in the rest of the state,” said author Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD, MSPH, assistant professor at UCSD.
Many San Diego County refugees work in essential front-line jobs such as ride-hailing drivers or in restaurants. These are the types of industries that were hit hard at the start of the pandemic.
“They also tend to be in very high-risk jobs, like home health aides or essential workers in stores. There was a really big gap between the jobs that were lost and the jobs that people didn’t feel comfortable in. not safe,” Fielding-Miller said.
UCSD has partnered with the local nonprofit, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) to collect information about refugee families.
Research also indicates that refugees who have been in the United States for more than five years have had more adverse effects during the pandemic than refugees who have arrived more recently. Fielding-Miller says refugees are often offered services upon arrival, but these diminish the longer they stay in San Diego.
Refugees suffered from mental health problems at similar rates to most Californians, but mental health problems were more common among refugees who had been here for more than five years.
“These are community members who come from Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Southeast Asia, Africa, come from very communal places,” said Jeanine Erikat, political associate at PANA. .
“It had a huge impact on people’s inability to connect socially, which also led to poor mental health,” Erikat added.
When churches, mosques and community centers closed, local refugees lost much of their social networks.
“Considering how long it takes to rebuild a life when you come here, you have to learn a new language, you have to get new degrees, you have to put your kids in school and you know, maybe the people need a helping hand more than those first five years to get it all back together when they come to our community,” Fielding-Miller said.
The United States aims to admit more than 100,000 refugees this year. Advocates say the goal highlights the need to understand the complexities of the refugee community in San Diego.
Last year, California accepted more refugees than any other state in the country. San Diego County resettles the most refugees from the state. Last year, the county hosted nearly 2,000 refugees.