Family Centre has provided an update on actions it is taking to support vulnerable families and children during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on emotional well-being via its ‘FC 5C Challenge.’
A spokesperson said, “As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic take its toll on family life and the well-being of children, it is clear that Family Centre’s services are needed now more than ever. The organisation provides professional counselling services for families with children 4-18 years old.
“These services are provided at no cost to families, thanks to dedicated and generous private and corporate donors who are working to ensure that Bermuda’s families remain supported.
“Family Centre is fully operational and its team has been providing counselling and support services remotely for the last five weeks.
“In addition, needs assessments have been performed to ensure families that the organization works with are equipped with the technology for remote support as well as online learning. For example, a number of families did not have laptops for children to use for counselling and school work, nor internet access.
“Families who need to access immediate mental health resources can call the Emotional Well-being Hotline at 543-1111 daily from 9.00am to 9.00pm. Concerned families with children between the ages of 4-18 years old can call Family Centre 232-1116 and leave a message on our main line. This message will be responded to by a screener within 24 hours.
“Further tips and resources are available at www.tfc.bm and families are encouraged to read about the ‘5 Cs’ for emotional and physical well-being below.”
Executive Director Martha Dismont said, “When we began our forward planning to consider how we might maintain the necessary contact with families as part of multiple services, it became obvious that the primary considerations were to reduce any added stress, to make sure that families felt connected, and to assess their capacity to receive services remotely.
“We knew how vital it was to assure families that we, and other services, would be available during this restricted and social distancing environment. Once we did an assessment of the needs of families, we reached out to other services, and to donors to assist with technical needs, and we set up, with best practice guidance, our counselling and supportive case management services to be delivered remotely.”
Incoming Executive Director [as of July 1] and Director of Services, Dr. Sandy De Silva said, “Family Centre shifted to a ‘work from home’ service delivery model in response to Government guidelines related to COVID-19 on Friday March 20.
“Our direct services team immediately began with a needs assessment of all of the families we work with in our Counselling Services, Community Programmes [Youth Leadership Academy and Beyond Rugby], and Family Forum group as many of our families were finding themselves laid off from work or already struggling financially.
“We immediately saw urgent needs in the areas of food and in student technology for homeschooling. Everyone in our organization has played a critical role in helping to meet these needs and I am so happy to report that through the generosity of multiple donors, we have been able to meet the technology needs of 26 families who had no or insufficient ability to homeschool in terms of access to a laptop and WiFi.
“A multitude of families we work with have also received food vouchers and remain on the monthly list of food support. We continue to plan for meeting the basic needs of our clientele moving forward as we remain in a restricted mode and want to ensure that they are functioning at a stable level.
“Family Centre is providing critical Counselling and Case Management Services via online teleconferencing.
“In the current environment, we have been working diligently to move individuals and families that need assistance now, off of our waiting list, and on to active services. We expect an increased need for mental health and wellness services to develop as a result of challenges caused by COVID-19.
“We anticipate significant uptick in our client list as families with children will feel the economic and psychological impacts of COVID-19 in the days ahead. Hence, it remains critical that we ensure that our therapeutic programmes are sustained.
“As has been stated by a number of community professionals, the pandemic impact ripples out beyond physical health to financial reality and emotional overload for families, which is what concerns Family Centre.
“The most vulnerable populations will be greatly impacted. As we socially distance to protect our physical health, we must also protect our mental health and that of those we care for and love. Children look to their parents for cues on how to relate to, and engage with, their world.
“When parents are highly stressed, their children feel stressed. Adults and children alike may feel overwhelmed and confused about the world right now. This may manifest in feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, and in regressive or self-destructive and negative behaviours.
“Hence, it is important for everyone to express their emotions, to let off steam, unravel cycles of negative thoughts, and allow for healing. Left untreated, poor mental health will not go away on its own and could continue for years to come.”
The spokesperson said, “Protect your family by incorporating Family Centre’s 5 Cs for physical and emotional well-being.
- “Connecting: This is a great time to enhance our relationships with one another by observing and taking care of each other’s needs. Try to have time apart and together. Find ways for children to remotely connect with their friends. Take care of what you can, act with compassion and let go of the rest. Connect around wellness and this will spread positivity into your relationships!
- “Calming: Parent self-care is critical to manage emotional overload. Parents should not feel guilty taking time to do what they need to in order to care for themselves, such as sitting outside, watching something that makes them laugh, or going for a walk. When parents are calm, their children will be calm. Learning to accept frustration as part of the process instead of trying to ‘fix’ people to do things your way is critical.
- “Cooking: Providing food for our loved ones is a basic function of family life. Try cooking something new and get those in your household involved. Offer a listening ear of support, comfort and encouraging words while you cook or bake together.
- “Creating: Take advantage of this time to come closer together by playing games, going on walks, asking each other about interests/likes/dislikes, gardening together – doing anything that brings about smiles and laughter. Encourage family members to express themselves creatively in the medium of their choice.
- “Caring: Put yourself in your family member’s shoes and try to see the world from their eyes. Children are used to the school schedule of 8:30am to 3:30pm, five out of seven days a week. They should wake at a similar time and go to bed at a similar time, daily. Weekends can be more relaxed. They should eat regular meals and snacks and get plenty of exercise, which will help them to sleep better. Finally, be realistic, drop and change expectations of what is doable in one day, one week or in the next month. Adjust expectations about schoolwork completion and performance accordingly to primarily focus on children’s emotional ability to cope.
“Have a daily or weekly family check-in routine to see how everyone is doing with the 5 Cs. This type of check-in allows children to see that their emotional well-being is as important as their physical well-being.
“Family Centre invites you to join their FC 5C Challenge. Find out more information on this challenge by visiting the Family Centre website.”