Glimmers of Light in the Midst of a Pandemic, Part II
We are now nearly eight months into California’s shelter-in-place and so much continues to shift, with the work we do being no exception. Our clinical staff have taken on the challenge of transitioning to telehealth with resourcefulness, teamwork, and flexibility while helping our children and families*, who are even more vulnerable during this time of crisis. And the output? An onslaught of heartwarming stories of connection and celebration–or glimmers of light, as we like to think of them.
We are extremely proud to share some of these successes with you–our donors, volunteers, friends, neighbors, and supporters–because without your help, this life-changing work would not be possible.
Los Angeles Region
When 16-year-old Cecilia first started receiving Wraparound services, the family had nearly been evicted due to her destructive outbursts. She was drinking and smoking marijuana regularly, her grades were in a sharp decline, and then she shocked her family when she told them she was pregnant. In therapy, she described trauma that started at age five when her father was deported, and the financial strain and housing instability that followed. However, Cecilia was motivated to keep her baby and with the help of her team and family, she worked hard to prepare for motherhood by processing through her traumas and losses, practicing coping strategies to replace substance abuse, and enrolling in a school program for pregnant teens. Even with the onset of the pandemic and transition to telehealth, she was able to keep her forward momentum and is now a high school graduate with a healthy baby!
Bay Area Region
Seven-year-old Noah was referred to our School-Linked Services program with high levels of anxiety that made it difficult for him to socialize with anyone besides his mother. He would cry and refuse to leave his mother’s side for school and would have angry outbursts whenever he was asked to transition off one of his main sources of comfort–video games. When the pandemic hit, he was no longer able to attend community programs, so he joined our video game therapy group. As the youngest participant, he has benefited from watching the older children model positive social and communication skills, which have helped him build strong relationships with other members of his family. He has also learned self-regulation, and his mother reports that she can now leave her son’s side to go run errands without triggering his worries and fears.
From the moment 19-year-old Gabriel was referred to our Crossroads Transitional Housing program, one of his main goals was to get his AA degree and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Prior to the onset of the state-mandated shelter-in-place, he would spend hours seeking in-person assistance with school assignments each week. With the transition to telehealth services, he has adapted well to using video sessions and tracked changes on Microsoft Word to continue getting help with his schoolwork. He has also allowed the team to provide guidance with money management, staying on top of his medication schedule, and independently getting to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store. Gabriel has stayed proactive, doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals, and his team reports seeing great improvements!
When Kai, an eight-year-old boy with dysthymia (a chronic form of depression) and ADHD, was first referred to our Placer County Family Support and Outpatient Mental Health programs, he and his younger half-sibling had just been transitioned to their current foster placement. The good news was the family was on track for adoption. The challenge was that this child was engaging in regular physical aggression such as hitting, pushing, and pinching, and threw frequent tantrums. His team worked hard to help Kai build coping skills, including seeking support from his parents, identifying and communicating his feelings, and learning his triggers. As supportive services continued, the frequency and intensity of Kai’s physical aggression and tantrums started decreasing. Then, last fall, he was officially adopted, and shortly thereafter, he graduated from services! His parents report that he is now able to talk about his feelings more confidently, and his staff member calls him, “an amazing kiddo.”
Inland Empire Region
Louise, a 45-year-old woman, was referred to our Inland Regional Center/Intensive Behavior Support Services program after being diagnosed with agoraphobia, hoarding, anxiety, and depressive disorder. Additionally, she had been showing symptoms of pre-menopause. Prior to the start of California’s shelter-in-place mandate, Louise was unengaged during sessions, often complaining about her menopause and cycling back into her depressive behaviors. However, the transition to telehealth has made a world of difference for her! She has mentioned she loves the video sessions more than once and has independently decided she would like to start back on her hygiene routine. She now props up her phone in the bathroom to show the team that she is brushing her teeth, putting on deodorant, and brushing her hair. Her team is thrilled to see the small steps she is taking, especially with this new method of service delivery!
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.