Written By: Robin Reid
With schools, businesses, governmental agencies, and others shutting down in March and April due to COVID-19, many families struggled to pay their bills, keep food on the table, or tried working from home while helping their kids with e-Learning. Needless to say, this pandemic has created a lot of anxiety, stress, fear, depression, anger, and other mental health issues for adults and children.
Thankfully, Morgan County families served by Youth First have been able to stay connected with social workers and schools to get the help they need. “With an emergency relief grant, our social workers were able to implement Line 2, a secure phone line that enables them to talk with families in need of services and check-in with the kids on their caseload,” said Youth First Regional Development Officer Becky Jessmer. “Social workers also started resourcing and delivering services to families, providing needs such as laptops, food, and clothing. Along with school personnel, we were also able to conduct home visits for families needing immediate services.”
Youth First, an Evansville nonprofit with master’s level social workers, provides on-site, free of charge behavioral health services, prevention, and family-based programs in schools throughout southern Indiana, including Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville.
“The impact of this pandemic on mental health may last week beyond the virus itself, including increased addiction, depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, child abuse, poverty, and more,” said Youth First President and Chief Executive Officer Parri Black.
The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) believes children’s mental health is a real problem in our community. We need generous donors like you to invest in the future and wellbeing of our children so we can have a Youth First social worker in all of our schools.
When Youth First had to close its offices due to the pandemic, they continued working with families using tutorials, interactive, online videos, and a conferencing tool such as Zoom. Throughout the Summer, they have been working with high-risk children and their parents, as well as educators, to be prepared when schools start to reopen.
When Youth First social workers return to school, they will work within the school safety guidelines, using social distancing, and personal protection equipment (i.e. face mask), as they interact with students.
With no sign of this virus ending, Youth First will continue to offer virtual programs and services during the Fall to keep everyone safe.
“Children have experienced social isolation and an increase in anxiety and depression. Increased screen time may also lead to other mental health issues down the road. Child abuse reports have dropped dramatically because there have been fewer sets of eyes on kids not in school,” added Jessmer.
If you, your child or a family you know is experiencing stress, fear, anxiety, or other difficulties due to COVID-19, Youth First has a COVID-19 Family Care web page – https://youthfirstinc.org/selmaterial/ with helpful information and tools as well as a “Top 10 Tips for Mental Health Success” video to help parents and kids get ready for school – https://youthfirstinc.org/10-tips-for-helping-kids-prepare-for-back-to-school/.
Our schools need more critical resources, such as a Youth First social worker, to help our students learn while coping with stressful issues such as this pandemic. You can do something to help by participating in CFMC’s $2 for $1 Match. Go to cfmconline.org to donate today and be a life change tomorrow.