Resilience project requests extension to continue post-disaster services | News

Grant funding used for the Community Resilience Project, which provided free support services to more than 30,000 residents struggling with disaster-related stressors, is nearing a boost but could benefit from a boost. second extension which would allow the program to continue until August 2022.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved VI Health Department’s first six-month program extension application through May 2022 with St. Croix’s Island Therapy Solutions and St. Thomas’s Insight Psychological Services contracted to provide project services . The ministry, recognizing a continued need, requested a three-month extension to allow the program to continue through the summer.

“While things are bouncing back a bit, there are still a lot of people in our community going through the same things we were seeing before, whether it’s job loss or the stress of home with children who first leave school and then come back,” Liz Llanos, outreach coordinator for Island Therapy Solutions, told the Daily News.

And it’s not just parents or workers who are still suffering from these pandemic symptoms – it’s “a lot of children too”.

Llanos, who is also a secondary school teacher, said she has witnessed the devastation the pandemic has taken on her students who have not been in class for two years.

“Returning to school was a time of transition that many of my students still struggle with. The kids are in the labs all day, back inside. So, even if things are progressing for you and me, it is not the case in many schools and public schools in particular. People are still adjusting,” Llanos said.

And when Llanos said people were still adjusting, she meant it.

She recounted the types of people who commonly seek support through the program, such as those navigating the new professional landscape; those devastated after being forced to shut down their once thriving businesses; those who are exhausted after managing day jobs and simultaneously teaching the curriculum to their children; and those who suffer sleepless nights under the weight of debt and maxed out credit cards.

“We still see a lot of people just trying to manage and what we see even more now is a lot of extreme exhaustion,” Llanos said.

To help manage the growing stress that individuals have been under since the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago, the project offers a variety of tactics that participants can use to ease the transition to the new world changed by the pandemic.

The program offers virtual group and individual support services, referral services and workshops that reinforce mindfulness such as breathing techniques and decompression. The Services are provided free of charge to all residents, schools, businesses, and organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It’s not your traditional mental health service,” Llanos said.

Instead, the program aims to respond to community constraints and assist by referring and connecting community participants with agencies and partners who can alleviate the individual stressor that a community participant was overwhelmed.

Although data is not compiled until the end of the next cycle, the last cycle resulted in 595 people who received individual crisis counselling, 9015 people who used group counseling and education services community, and 19,501 others who requested brief education and support services.

Llanos said if she had to choose just one of the most beneficial aspects of the program, it would be the one-to-one services offered by crisis counselors when people call, or the advice shared in groups that usually takes place virtually.

“The strategies that are offered during these sessions are very impactful as stress can occur at different entry points for everyone, whether unemployed or dealing with the stress of working from home and child care, so we’ve found that in these sessions people are really able to extract the strategies that they’ve found what would work best for them I think that’s the most successful “said Llanos.

To learn more about the services offered through the program, call Island Therapy Solutions at (340) 719-7007 on St. Croix or Insight Psychological (340) 774-2228 on St. Thomas.

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