As Many Youth Cope with Anxiety and Depression, New Mexico Parents Recognize that Afterschool Programs Support Recovery and Wellness

Washington, D.C. – Most New Mexico parents see afterschool programs as part of the solution to the social and mental health struggles so many students are experiencing right now, with 9 in 10 saying these programs give students time to engage with peers and reduce unproductive screen time, and 6 in 7 saying they help build confidence. That is according to Promoting Healthy Futures: Afterschool Provides the Supports Parents Want for Children’s Well-Being, a household survey released today by the Afterschool Alliance. 

Afterschool programs are especially important now, as the country faces a youth mental health crisis. In December, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a sobering warning about the mental health of America’s youth, warning that rates of anxiety, depression, and sadness rose dramatically during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just reported that 4 in 10 high school students report feeling “persistently sad or hopeless” and 1 in 5 have contemplated suicide. The CDC noted that “school connectedness” is a protective factor for youth facing mental health challenges.

The household survey the Afterschool Alliance released today includes responses from more than 31,000 U.S. parents of school-age children, including 462 in New Mexico. It was conducted by Edge Research in 2020. It shows that parents see afterschool and summer learning programs as a pivotal support young people need. Seventy-three percent of New Mexico parents of afterschool students report the program helps their child learn responsible decision-making and 89% report it helps their child build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors. 

“Here in New Mexico, afterschool programs have been stepping up to meet the challenges students and families are facing by checking in with students during remote learning, taking students on virtual and actual field trips, providing counseling and other supports, collaborating to develop home learning activities to be distributed with take-home meals, and more,” said May Sagbakken, Executive Director of the NMOST Network (New Mexico Out of School Time). “We are pleased that this study finds that large majorities of New Mexico parents recognize the tremendous supports that out-of-school-time programs provide. Our recently completed afterschool mapping project clearly shows that we need to do even more to ensure that all students in New Mexico have access to afterschool programs. Right now, the unmet demand is great.” 

“Afterschool and summer learning programs offer critically important opportunities for students to engage with their peers, learn life skills, and build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “But too many young people are missing out. For every child in an afterschool program in our country today, three more are waiting to get in. The families of 24.6 million children — more than ever before — are unable to access a program. There are significant inequities, with Black and Latino children among those most likely to be unable to access the afterschool programs their parents want for them. We need to make it possible for all students to participate in afterschool programs, which help them build the resilience, hope, and connectedness they need to succeed.”

The New Mexico findings from Promoting Healthy Futures largely mirror the national findings, which include:

  • Eighty-five percent of parents say afterschool programs provide children opportunities to engage with their peers, 77% say they allow children to build positive relationships with caring adults and mentors, 75% say they reduce the likelihood that young people will use drugs or engage in other risky behaviors, and 74% say they keep kids safe and out of trouble. All those numbers are appreciably higher than they were in the 2014 survey.
  • Agreement on the benefits afterschool programs provide crosses all demographic and political lines, with more than 8 in 10 urban, suburban, and rural parents agreeing that these programs give working parents peace of mind. Agreement spans every region, and 86% of Democrats, 83% of Republicans, and 82% of Independents agree with that statement.
  • More than 3 in 4 parents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia say that afterschool programs provide students with time to interact with peers and build life skills, like the ability to communicate and work in teams; and approximately 7 in 10 in every state and D.C. say these programs help build confidence and help children learn responsible decision-making.
  • A safe environment, knowledgeable and caring staff, and the opportunity to build life skills are most important to parents selecting an afterschool program. Ninety-three percent say a safe environment was important in choosing their child’s program and 92% are satisfied with the environment the program provides. Similarly, 93% say staff was important in choosing a program and 89% are happy with the program’s staff. Eighty-eight percent of parents say the opportunity to build life skills was important in choosing a program and 90% say the program helps their child build life skills.
  • Parents of color and those with low incomes place a higher priority on programs helping students build life skills, with 67% of Black parents, 64% of Latino parents, and 63% of parents in families with low incomes saying that was extremely important in their selection of a program, compared to 58% of parents overall. Black, Latino, and low-income parents also are more likely to say knowledgeable and caring staff, and a focus on reducing risky behaviors, was extremely important in their choice of an afterschool program.

The full national and New Mexico study, America After 3PM, and accompanying data, are available at

Data from this special report is based on the 2020 America After 3PM survey results, which was made possible with support from the New York Life Foundation, Overdeck Family Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Altria Group, and the Walton Family Foundation, as well as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

America After 3PM is a nationally representative survey of randomly selected adults who live in the United States and are the parent or guardian of a school-age child who lives in their household. The survey was conducted using a blend of national consumer panels. America After 3PM data included in this report were collected between January 27 and March 17, 2020. A total of 31,055 households were surveyed. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish. Data from interviews are weighted on race and income within state and by state population. The overall margin of error for child-level and household-level data is +/- < 1 percent.

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.