Family Support Groups – Namiaz Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Family Support Groups – Namiaz 32 32 BITS & BYTES: NightWood returns to the mountain; ACA open enrollment; BCC virtual open day; Zoom conversation with journalist Timothy Egan; 18 Degrees expands youth program Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:00:21 +0000

NightWood returns to The Mount from November 4th through December 31st

LENOX – The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home presents its second year NightWood, an outdoor sound and light experience that immerses visitors in a fantastic winter landscape inspired by the architecture and surroundings of the place. This year’s NightWood combines music, light and theater elements into seven unique scenes.

Designer Chris Bocchiaro from Clerestory Light will design the show again this year. Bocchiaro has expanded the experience with two new scenes: The Eternal City – a journey deep into the forest that reveals a hidden metropolis full of life and energy – and The Conference of Trees – a dense tree population in the middle of conversation with imaginary voices through light and sound .

NightWood on the mountain. Photo: Lynne M. Anstett Imagery Art Works

“There is something evocative about being in the forest at night: a connection to our old past, to old traditions and long-forgotten experiences,” says Bocchiaro. “It releases a variety of emotions that vary from person to person. We wanted to evoke these emotions with a combination of light, sound and sculpture to create an atmosphere that stimulates memory and arouses the imagination. “

“Last year’s run was a phenomenal success; we were sold out, ”said Susan Wissler, Executive Director of The Mount. “Due to COVID and gathering restrictions, many people were unable to experience NightWood last year. This year we have more capacity and are starting earlier. We hope to do justice to everyone who wants to experience the magic and wonder of NightWood. “

NightWood runs from November 4 to December 31, Thursday through Sunday evenings, from 5 p.m. A special Opening Night Celebration on November 4th includes bistro dishes and craft cocktails. Tickets for the opening night are $ 100 per person. General tickets are $ 20 for adults, $ 10 for children 6-18 years old, and free for children 0-5 years old. Entry is limited and time-limited. Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling 413-551-5100. November 25 and November 24-25 December closed.


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The open registration for ACA insurance begins on November 1st; CHP employees are on hand to help consumers

Image courtesy of CHP

LARGE BARRINGTON – Starting November 1, the open enrollment season begins for Massachusetts residents covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plans. The Community Health Programs (CHP) insurance team is available to help consumers with questions, plan changes or new registrations.

The open sign-up period runs until January 23, 2022, but ACA customers are urged to review their plans in November to begin the process and avoid any leakage of coverage. Many people covered by ACA plans will automatically be added back to their existing plans, but anyone with questions about coverage or wanting to change the plan must do so during this registration window to stay insured in 2022.

Citizens without insurance, including new residents, can also apply for coverage. The CHP insurance team can help free of charge. It is not necessary to be a CHP patient to use this service.

ACA-insured residents will receive an email reminding them to re-enroll. Renewals and new applications require specific paperwork and updated proof of income, and while this process can be completed online, not all have reliable internet and the process can seem complicated. CHP has four patient navigators that can help with re-enrollments or new applications. Navigators also help people figure out if the plan they have in place is appropriate.

Massachusetts state law requires all residents to be insured or face a tax penalty. The American Rescue Plan provides grants for the ACA’s monthly insurance premiums, but many ACA members are unaware of this additional financial benefit.

Patients who receive their health insurance through the Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative (MassHealth) are not subject to open enrollment season requirements; their coverage can be changed at any time during the year.

Individuals in need of assistance can contact the CHP Insurance Registration Team at or 413-717-6268. Applicants also have the option to renew or enroll online.


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Berkshire Community College is hosting a virtual open house

BCC sign campus
Berkshire Community College. Photo courtesy of BCC

PITTSFIELD – Berkshire Community College (BCC) will host a virtual open house on Saturday, November 6th from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by an optional grant session at 11:30 a.m. Participants will:

  • Learn how to apply, register, and choose courses
  • Find out why BCC is the cheapest option in the region
  • Hear from faculty and staff about BCC’s programs and the variety of student support services
  • Learn how BCC courses are being rolled out to hundreds of schools or prepare students for immediate careers

All attendees will receive a free gift card for local lunches, a discount at the BCC bookstore, and the chance to win BCC swag. To register, visit

Participants in the grant session will learn the basics of submitting a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). In addition, participants can speak to an academic advisor about the Spring 2022 course schedule.

Time pressure? Register for a 30-minute virtual information event with an admissions advisor who will provide you with the tools you need for application and registration. The next sessions are offered:

  • Friday, 10/22 at 12 o’clock
  • Wednesday 3 November at 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 18 at 12 o’clock
  • Wednesday, December 4th at 4 p.m.
  • Monday, December 13th at 6 p.m.

To register for an information event, visit For more information, email or call 413-236-1630.


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Scoville Library hosts virtual event with journalist Timothy Egan

Timothy Egan. Photo via Twitter

SALISBURY – The Scoville Memorial Library will be interviewing journalist Timothy Egan through Zoom Saturday 6 November at 4 p.m.

The theme of the lecture is “Once There Were Giants: The New Fire Threat in the West”. Massive forest fires are not new, but today various missteps from a combination of climate change and the resulting drought have increased the dangers. Fire fighting and wilderness settlement threaten human and natural communities alike, including some of the largest trees in the world. The number of people was already high and is likely to increase, creating an underlying fear and insecurity for many residents of fire-prone areas.

Egan is a columnist for the New York Times and author of nine books, most recently “A Pilgrimage to Eternity”. He won the National Book Award for “The Worst Hard Time” and received a Pulitzer for reporting on the race in America.

Register using this link.


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18 Degrees expands youth program

PITTSFIELD – 18 Degrees, Family Services for Western MA, offers additional programs for young people in the Berkshires. These programs are designed to provide young people with the resources, skills and support that will help them achieve their goals. All youth programs from 18 Degrees aim to ignite the creativity of young people, support their ambitions, discover opportunities and break down barriers.

Safe Spaces programming expands the organization’s offerings for LGBTQ + youth and their families. 18 Degrees offers adolescents and young adults a safe, inclusive, just, accessible and healthy space to live loudly and be their authentic selves. Four self-help groups are offered: Live Out Loud Youth Project (two sections, for middle school and high school), Young Adult Affinity Group (for young adults aged 18-30), and Families with Pride (for elementary school students and their families). In addition, a parent education and self-help group, Parents / Caregivers Respecting Identities and Sexuality in Massachusetts or PRISM, offers support, strategies and education around LGBTQ + issues. For more information on LGBTQ + -related groups, please contact Emma Lenski at or 413-770-7121.

18 Degrees also offers RAP, Inc., an after-school music production program that allows teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 to earn money to help set and achieve artistic goals. Teens learn about music production, including songwriting, beat-making and production techniques, as well as financial literacy, through partnering with Greylock Federal Credit Union. Three iMacs come with Logic Pro X and everything you need to get started. For more information about RAP, Inc. contact Trevor Wheelock at or 413-597-1259.


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The brothers and sisters who need to be adopted in Cornwall Mon, 18 Oct 2021 16:01:06 +0000

Across the UK, more than 2,000 children and young people seek loving homes as part of the adoption process, and almost half of them are in sibling groups.

Having a brother or sister who has been there the entire time can help adoptive children feel safe, quickly settle in their new home, and provide them with constant fellowship, mutual support, and emotional support throughout their lives.

Indeed, for many of us, relationships with our brothers and sisters will be the longest.

Cabinet Member for Children and Families Barbara Ellenbroek said, “Most people who choose to adopt or expand their families will consider having one child at a time.

“However, if you want a family, sibling adoption means you only have to go through the process once and you will get more support.”

This Cornwall Council National Adoption Week needs adoptive parents who can provide permanent loving homes to groups of brothers and sisters of different sizes and ages, many of whom are waiting 18 months or more to find a home.

Many of these children have had difficult experiences and for some have been the only constants in the life of the other.

The separation of siblings because an adoptive family cannot be found can cause further anxiety and loss and creates a whole host of additional problems for children who have already had a very difficult start in life.

Our priority will always be to find a home for children together. For some children, however, housing separately offers the best opportunity to develop relationships with their adoptive parents and recover from the aftermath of early abuse.

In these circumstances, sibling relationship building will remain a priority.

Barbara added, “Our adoption team is there to support you every step of the way towards adoption. No special qualifications or skills are required, we are just looking for someone who can offer one, two or maybe three children a loving home. ”

Adopted children can sometimes bring their own challenges so adopting a family group can be daunting, but there is support as well as the support you get from your family and friends.

Family groups of children are on average older than individual children, so all problems and diagnoses have already been identified. As a result, the adoptive parents have a much clearer idea of ​​the children’s challenges and can access appropriate support right from the start.

There are a number of adoption support services available to you and your family and friends, including: support groups, training, workshops, and more specialized therapy.

For many prospective parents, the biggest concern of adopting more than one child together is the lack of a big enough house or money. You need to seriously consider what this means for you as a family, but there is practical and potentially financial assistance.

If you think you could give a loving home to a sibling group, search for Cornwall Council Adoption, visit or call our friendly adoption team now on 01872 322 200.

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Newly diagnosed cancer patients receive a care package Sat, 16 Oct 2021 03:20:00 +0000

LUMBERTON – Healthcare providers in the area urge pregnant and breastfeeding women to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

According to the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 22% of pregnant women received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. One reason could be conflicting information that creates uncertainty about the safety of the vaccine, a problem that has preoccupied the medical community for less than two years.

“Understandably, there are no long-term safety validation studies at this point in time,” said Don McKinley, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at UNC Health Southeastern.

To break the fog of fear, UNC Health Southeastern doctors and nurses discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with patients. One fact presented to patients is the danger that COVID-19 poses to pregnant women.

According to the CDC, “pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to develop COVID-19 more severely than non-pregnant people. You can get a COVID-19 vaccination if you are pregnant. A COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy can protect you from serious illness caused by COVID-19. If you have any questions about the vaccination, it may be helpful to talk to your doctor, but this is not necessary for the vaccination. “

According to the CDC, there is currently no evidence that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. But the data is limited.

“Claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and there is no scientific evidence to back them up,” UNC Health Southeastern said in information sent to patients.

UNC Health Southeastern staff tell patients that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the two leading organizations representing obstetricians, recommend that all individuals be pregnant be vaccinated against COVID-19. The organizations’ support for Vaccination During Pregnancy reflects the evidence of the safe use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy by tens of thousands of reporters over the past few months, as well as the current low vaccination rates and surge in cases.

“Data has shown that COVID-19 infection puts pregnant people at increased risk of serious complications and even death,” said a press release from the ACOG and the SMFM.

The two medical organizations point to the increased risk of the COVID delta variant as another reason why pregnant women should get vaccinated. People who have recently given birth and were not vaccinated while pregnant are also “strongly encouraged” to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to the two medical organizations.

“ACOG encourages its members to be enthusiastic about recommending vaccinations to their patients. This means highlighting the known safety of the vaccines and the increased risk of serious complications associated with COVID-19 infection, including death, during pregnancy, “said Dr. J. Martin Tucker, President of ACOG. “It is clear that pregnant women need to be confident in their decision to vaccinate, and a strong recommendation from their obstetrician-gynecologist could make a world of difference for many pregnant women.”

UNC Health Southeastern doctors and other caregivers tell their patients that there are risks, as is the case with all vaccinations according to the health system. There are slight side effects. These include injection side reactions, fatigue, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and fever.

“So far, the data show no increased risk of miscarriages, birth defects, premature births or stillbirths,” said Dr. Stuart Shelton, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at Cape Fear Valley Perinatology. “In principle, there is no increased risk of unwanted pregnancy outcomes. Data is still being collected and analyzed. “

Shelton is the only maternal fetal medicine or perinatologist in Cumberland County and has practiced in Fayetteville for 19 years, according to Cape Fear Valley Health.

“I think the vaccine is safe, and I tell the patient that if she gets COVID, her risk of pregnancy complications is much higher than with the vaccine,” Shelton said. “And at the moment we are not aware of any increased risks associated with the vaccine. If it was any of my family members or friends, I would highly recommend vaccinating themselves without reservation. “

In order to collect more data on this topic, the CDC has set up the v-safe COVID-19 vaccine pregnancy register and invites you to participate.

“The registry collects health information from people who received a COVID-19 vaccination during perception (within 30 days before the last menstruation) or during pregnancy. The information is critical in helping people and their healthcare providers make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. Participation is voluntary and participants can unsubscribe at any time, ”said the CDC.

Individuals wishing to participate must be registered with v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to conduct personalized health checks after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Through v-safe, a person can quickly inform CDC about side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Depending on your responses to the web surveys, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. V-safe will also remind you to get your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine if you need one, “the CDC website states.

Anyone who would like to take part in v-safe can register online at

The New England Journal of Medicine, in an article published April 21, included v-safe data collected from December 14, 2020 through February 28.

The results were: “A total of 35,691 v-safe participants aged 16 to 54 years were identified as pregnant. Injection site pain was reported more frequently in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women, while headache, myalgia, chills, and fever were reported less frequently. Of the 3958 participants who were entered into the v-safe pregnancy registry, 827 had a completed pregnancy, of which 115 (13.9%) led to a loss of pregnancy and 712 (86.1%) led to a live birth (mostly at Participants with vaccination in the third trimester). Adverse results in newborns included premature birth (9.4%) and small size for gestational age (3.2%); no neonatal deaths were reported. Although not directly comparable, the calculated proportions of adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes in people vaccinated against Covid-19 who had a completed pregnancy were similar to those in studies of pregnant women conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic. Of 221 pregnancy-related adverse events reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), the most commonly reported event was spontaneous abortion (46 cases). “

The conclusion was that preliminary results showed no obvious safety signals in pregnant individuals who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response in the body. The advantage of mRNA vaccines is that vaccinated individuals receive protection without risking the serious consequences of contracting COVID-19.

“However, extended follow-up, including follow-up to large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is required to inform maternal, pregnancy and infant results,” the Journal of Medicine article states.

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The Recorder – Former employees, parents describe the downturn at The United Arc, which lost several contracts in July Thu, 14 Oct 2021 21:28:21 +0000

TURNERS FALLS – Former employees and parents of those cared for by The United Arc describe a toxic workplace and weeding out programs that led to the downfall of the organization since the hiring of recently deposed Executive Director Lynne Bielecki in 2015.

In July, the State Department of Developmental Services (DDS) instructed The United Arc to hand over its flat-sharing contracts to ServiceNet with a September 20 deadline. The organization’s individual home support contract was also in danger of being abandoned, but Bruce Biagi, the current chairman of the board of directors, did not respond to a comment to confirm the status of that contract.

The United Arc, founded in 1951 by Rita Marguerite Canedy and founded in 1960, serves customers in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester through offices in Greenfield, Turners Falls, Holyoke and Athol.

Biagi previously said that United Arc’s Residential Program serves 14 people, Shared Living Program five people, and Individual Home Supports Program 44 people. United Arc maintains its Support Services and Family and Youth Services contracts, which serve 500 people.

The Department of Developmental Services report showed that The United Arc failed to manage the health of its customers, properly train its staff, and manage internal affairs. The report found that the organization only met 51% of the license indicators, missing five critical indicators.

Former staff said Bielecki cut several programs and groups within the agency while holding grudges against those who pushed back, resulting in “huge staff turnover” as staff resigned or were laid off. At the same time, parents and individuals cared for by the organization said complaints about living conditions or actions taken by staff fell on deaf ears.

Bielecki could not be reached for comment.

Program cuts and a hostile working atmosphere

Loreen Flockerzie, who worked for The United Arc from 2009 to 2018 as a self-advocate for the organization’s Pioneer Club, a group of individuals mentored by the organization and encouraged to make their own decisions and develop social skills, said the group is a “great resource” that is crumbling.

“It taught them to stand up for themselves and act for themselves, which was a great system,” Flockerzie said in a Zoom interview. “Everything was in their hands as they held their meetings, and when Lynne came everything changed.”

Flockerzie said it started with the extinction of the group’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. From then on, more changes were gradually made.

“Some of them came suddenly and some of them chopped off the program,” said Flockerzie. “They took them and reduced their self-advocacy rights and told them, so to speak, ‘You will do this and you will do that.'”

She added that Pioneer Club members had a close relationship with former Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin, who would be visiting the club in his day, but Flockerzie said Bielecki has started allowing Pioneer Club members to visit multiple state officials, and it felt like lobbying for The United Arcs’ own financial gain – often only highly functional members are chosen to represent the organization.

Frustration from Flockerzie, individuals and parents began to build, but she said complaints were not being considered and resulted in a tense situation in the office.

“You went into the building, there was such an atmosphere you could almost cut it with a knife, it was so negative,” she said. “The club would say to me, ‘What’s going on?’ And I had no answer and I felt bad. ”

Flockerzie’s frustration reached the point where she became disillusioned with the direction The United Arc was headed and she left the organization. She blames Bielecki for the downfall of the organization.

“She decimated the place,” said Flockerzie. “And that’s a shame. It has served a lot of people. Many families were really dependent on The Arc. ”

“Families were just a number”

Jennifer Lemoine, who worked as a family support associate in the Athol office at The United Arc until 2019, reiterated similar observations of programs being scaled down without any intervention from staff or staff of the organization.

“It became more of a business,” Lemoine said in a telephone interview. “It felt like these families were just a number and it wasn’t run that way before.”

Lemoine said Bielecki appeared to have no experience running a family support program that placed more responsibilities on already overworked staff. When previous employees left or were removed, Lemoine said that those in charge were unable to run the program effectively.

“You have no background in that stuff,” said Lemoine. “It’s like hiring someone to work at a bank who doesn’t have basic math skills.”

She and other former employees said any complaints or concerns filed with the human resources department were usually brushed aside, given that the organization employed at least five human resources during Bielecki’s tenure.

“You had no one to go to when you had a complaint. They couldn’t go to HR because nobody was there long enough, ”Lemoine said. “That caused cracks. … All walked on eggshells. ”

Between the hostile work environment and inexplicable program cuts, Lemoine said, this began to affect her and her colleagues’ ability to work.

“It was just getting so bad. Everyone fought and people were fired, ”said Lemoine. “I cried at home at night and said, ‘I can’t even do my job right, I don’t help these people.'”

Lemoine finally left The United Arc in 2019 after a leave of absence. She said the results of the July condition report were not surprising, and both The United Arc and the Department of Developmental Services had failed to help residents of the area with disabilities.

“It’s just awful, and all of this could have stopped years ago if the board (directors) and DDS got a foothold. … It’s disgusting to me, ”she said. “I’m just thinking of these people with the individual contracts that are now being mixed up. … So many lives are affected and people just can’t see it unless you live or work in that area, how much these families need this support. ”

Parent and individual frustrations

Mary Traver, whose son has autism and was cared for by The United Arc until the end of 2017, said a group of parents had come together this year to address their concerns about the governance of The United Arc and them have been brushed aside.

“We didn’t come to them with rumors and whispers,” Traver said in Court Square in Greenfield. “When a couple of us met with the board, it was essentially ‘speak with your hand’.”

Traver said The United Arc was a “premier organization” under the leadership of former Executive Director Ed Porter, who headed the organization for nearly 40 years, but that progress was wiped out in less than a decade.

“It was such a rich offering with the services we had at The Arc,” said Traver. “It went downhill quickly”

Finding that her son had no negative experience with The United Arc, Traver said she could see employees suffering from the new working conditions.

“The sales were outrageous and parents were upset,” said Traver. “You cleaned the house.”

She said it was a painful experience removing her son from The United Arc programs as the organization had become a “second family” over the years.

“It felt like a divorce,” she added.

“They just dumped it there”

Linsey Hindley and her son Nathan Morrison, who has been cared for by The United Arc for multiple periods over the past two decades, both described living environments that did not properly meet Morrison’s needs when he returned to the organization’s care in 2019.

“There was no quality of life at all,” said Hindley, who sat next to Morrison. “He had no access to the church. You wouldn’t drive him to his friends or family. ”

Hindley did not want to send her son back into the care of The United Arc, but it was “the only place approved by the Department of Developmental Services.” She said Morrison was placed in a residential group for wheelchair and non-verbal people.

“It was definitely not a suitable place for him,” she said. “They just dumped it there.”

Morrison described his life situation at The United Arc as “terrible and very unfriendly”. He said the organization did not meet his needs and had taken away some of his favorite social activities. Hindley added that Morrison was not allowed to use the stove or coffee maker even though he had the experience and ability to do so.

“Yup,” said Morrison when asked if he thought The United Arc had let him down. “I have to go to arc cookouts and art nights. I had a good time (before). ”

However, Hindley said she never had any issues with The United Arc for years until Bielecki was hired.

“It hasn’t been a good two years,” said Hindley. “It’s hard because you trust an agency … then suddenly I haven’t trusted a single person.”

Like Lemoine, Hindley said that the guilt is twofold, with both The United Arc and the Department of Developmental Services to blame.

“DDS should have acted much earlier,” said Hindley. “I blame them as much as I blame The Arc.”

“Deeply Desperate”

Former Executive Director Ed Porter, now based in Maine, said it was disheartening to hear of the loss of contracts from The United Arc because his “identity was so closely tied to the organization” and he couldn’t believe the news, when he heard her.

“I don’t know the specifics of the situation, but I was deeply concerned about it. … You don’t spend 40 years of your life doing something and let someone destroy it in six years, ”Porter said in a telephone interview. “It makes me very sad that she destroyed the organization. I think I am legitimate in this feeling. ”

Porter, who said he was not involved in hiring his successor, said he hoped The United Arc can put the pieces back together and try to continue the mission it set out to do when it was founded.

“I don’t know what’s left in the Arc,” Porter said. “I hope it can be raised from the ashes as a kind of phoenix.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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Health calendar published October 13, 2021 Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:11:00 +0000

The Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging provides advocacy, information, resources, and support so that older adults can maintain the lifestyle of their choice. To learn more about this and other presentations and training from the agency, visit Live chat with a specialist can also be accessed online at

SAIL: Tuesday and Thursday, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Willmar Community Center, free of charge, all skill levels. The Staying Active & Independent for Life program is based on strength training and balance exercises to protect against fractures caused by osteoporosis by increasing muscle strength, balance and bone density.

What’s new with Medicare: October 18, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., online. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest changes in the Medicare program. Medicare beneficiaries and their families will learn about Medicare changes for the coming year and how they will affect their benefits. An overview of the Medicare program, benefits and plan options for the new year is provided. This presentation is offered every autumn. Sign up at as space is limited.

Senior LinkAge Line: The Senior LinkAge Line, a free service from the Minnesota Board on Aging, is the state health insurance assistance program and Senior Medicare Patrol for Minnesota. Older adults can contact the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for help with Medicare and health insurance questions, help finding home-stay services or assistance Obtain funding for medicines. Make sure you have a full list of prescription drugs and dosages.

D.isability Hub MN: A free nationwide resource network that helps solve problems, navigate the system, and plan for the future. The team knows the ins and outs of community resources and government programs and has years of experience helping people bring them together. Call 1-866-333-2466 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or check for email and live chat options.

Coffee talk, a nationwide telephone chat line for older adults, is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Call Toll Free at 877-238-2282. It is staffed by volunteers who understand the needs and challenges of the older adult population and are committed to alleviating the loneliness and social isolation of older adults. Volunteers can offer words of encouragement and understanding, and provide information about support and resources available in the person’s community. Calls are free. Caller privacy is a priority and the only information requested is first name. Line users can call as many times as they want.

Willmar food on wheels: Hot meals on wheels are delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A frozen meal is available for the next day or the weekend. Meals are available to people who are unable to cook for themselves due to age, disability, illness or recent hospital discharge. In addition to the regular meal, three special diet meals are available. The cost is $ 6.81 and includes all side dishes (including dessert) and either milk or juice.

Order by 1 p.m. on the working day before the delivery day by calling 320-235-5310, extension. 219 or 320-894-7401. The menu is available on the West Central Industries website,, under Business Solutions.

Willmar senior restaurant: Meals are served at 11:30 am on weekdays and can also be picked up from the community center. Meals are open to people aged 60 and over. Recommended donation of $ 5 per meal, call 320-262-5288 the day before noon and leave a message. The menu is available on the City of Willmar website under Community Center.

WILLMAR – A virtual cancer support group meets on the fourth Monday of the month, October 25th, from 6pm to 7.30pm. Open to anyone diagnosed with cancer – at any stage and at any age – it is focused on building connections and friendships. It is supported by care coordinators from the Carris Health Cancer Center along with a cancer survivor and their support system. Knowing that everyone has at least one thing in common – cancer – can make it easier to open up, share, cry and laugh. The moderators will make sure no one is forced to share more than they want to. For free. Register at

The National Alliance on Mental Illness and NAMI Minnesota offer a variety of free online peer support groups for adults and young adults with mental illness, their families, friends, spouses / partners, and parents of children and adolescents. Led by trained peer moderators, the self-help groups help individuals and families learn coping strategies and find strength by sharing their experiences. For a full list of group meetings and how to attend them, visit and click on “Support Groups” or go directly to

Suicide Prevention Course for Agricultural Communities: 19.10. or 16.12., 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m., free of charge, online; QPR (question, persuade, refer) for agricultural communities. The program helps individuals learn the three steps anyone can take to prevent suicide. It is aimed at members of rural and agricultural communities over the age of 16 who want to learn best practices in suicide prevention. To register, see “Classes” on For more information, call 651-645-2948.

The American Red Cross conducts blood donation drives in the central west area. To donate blood you must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more, and be in good health. You can donate blood every 56 days. Duplicate red blood cells can be donated every 112 days. Although all blood types are required, Type O and Type B negative donors are particularly encouraged to donate.

Appointments can be made at 1-800-RED-CROSS or online at All donors require acceptable identification. The preferred form is government-issued photo identification, such as B. a driver’s license or a blood donation card from the Red Cross. Otherwise, you will need to provide two other types of identification, e.g. B. a work card, social security card, personal check or credit card. Personalized mail such as an electricity bill is not accepted.

Planned blood donation drives for the Tribune area are:

October 13, Dawson: Noon to 6 p.m., Dawson-Boyd High School

October 14, Madison: Noon to 6 p.m., Calvary Baptist Church

October 14th, Litchfield: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church

October 15, Glenwood: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., American Legion

October 15, Willmar: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Methodist Church

18.-19. October, Redwood Falls: 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., community center

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From ART kits to grocery shopping online: Why seniors are struggling with the Covid-19 rules, Health News & Top Stories Mon, 11 Oct 2021 03:19:07 +0000

SINGAPORE – When Mr. Zeng, 63, finally reached someone on the phone line who could help him, he was on an isolation warrant on day eight and had no food at home.

The senior, who lives alone in western Singapore, cried on the phone and told SG Assist volunteers that he had survived on canned food for eight days.

At that point, Mr. Zeng, who works in the cleaning service, was running out of rations.

Seniors like him face many challenges trying to comply with Covid-19 regulations, even after the government has simplified the rules.

Latest guidelines, announced last Saturday (October 9th) by a multi-ministerial task force, said that home restoration will be the standard regime for everyone except partially or unvaccinated people aged 50 and over, vaccinated seniors aged 80 and over and children under four years of age.

Seniors at risk of serious illness can recover in Covid-19 treatment facilities that have the medical skills and resources, including oxygen supplementation for patients in need.

Such seniors don’t have to worry about keeping up with the changing criteria for the home recovery program.

But, like the rest of the population, they will continue to have to use rapid antigen test kits (ART), which are now the foundation of the republic’s Covid-19 strategy.

If you receive a message from the Ministry of Health (MOH) that you are in close contact with a confirmed case, you are legally obliged to test yourself with an ART kit and upload the results online.

Senior welfare organizations told the Straits Times that many seniors don’t even have a fixed cell phone number registered with MOH, making it impossible for them to receive messages.

Ms. Michelle Lau, co-founder of the Kampung Kakis support group, said seniors may not have a landline if they use prepaid cards. This means that if they change those cards, their cell phone numbers will change, she said.

The annual IMDA survey on Infocomm usage 2020 found that only 60 percent of residents aged 75 and over use smartphones. Seniors are also less digitally savvy – they don’t know how to use Telegram and where support groups like the SG Quarantine Order Support Group are based.

Around 16,000 members of the group are discussing, for example, what to do if they have been given a quarantine ordinance as a contact person for a Covid 19 patient.

More than 50 volunteers also run grocery stores for those who are under quarantine and deliver cooked meals and rapid antigen test kits (ART) when they don’t have them.

Ms. Evonne Tan, 30, who leads the group’s food run initiative, said its members have completed 20 such runs since the group’s inception two and a half weeks ago.

The administrative chief said, “We have had several inquiries from people who have been quarantined and unable to provide food to their elderly parents living alone.”

However, the group has not received any direct inquiries from seniors.

To bridge the gap between seniors, SG Assist also has phone lines for seniors to seek help.

Such contact numbers can then be disseminated among older people, who often hear about them through word of mouth or share them via WhatsApp.

With reference to Mr. Zeng, Adrian Tan, co-founder of SG Assist, explains why such hotlines are necessary: ​​”The senior cannot look after himself because he has no family support after the death of his wife. He cannot buy.” Groceries online and was afraid he would be fined if he left his home. “

As soon as SG Assist learns of such seniors, they will ask volunteers to conduct grocery stores using the SG Assist mobile app.

The People’s Association (PA) has also posted posters in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC to let residents in need know they will receive ration packets and meals delivered by community centers.

Over in Tampines North, volunteers have also been handing out care packs to those on the home recovery program or in quarantine since last Sunday (October 3rd).

Edwin Tay (left) and PA employee Koong Chee Yong, the grassroots volunteer, delivered North Care Packs to residents as part of Tampine’s home recovery program. PHOTO: ST FILE

On October 6, 1,600 PA employees and volunteers distributed 8,800 Care Packs to households with Home Recovery Program, or QO residents. Residents who need additional help can also seek help from PA staff and volunteers.

Ms. Fion Phua, founder of the Keeping Hope Alive volunteer platform, goes door to door every Sunday to wipe away seniors who live in Housing Board rented apartments and share more about vaccinations.

Ms. Phua said, “These seniors do not know how to use ART kits and do not have WiFi in their home. Some still don’t know that you can go to a community center and get the Covid-19 vaccine. “

Lions Befrienders, who care for 7,800 seniors, has also trained their seniors to use ART kits at their centers.

Its chairman, Mr. Anthony Tay, said: “There is too much information at the moment. When you have someone who calls you regularly and has an open ear, seniors feel safe asking the questions they have. “

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Roping up with parents, ecosystem support schools, health news and top stories Sat, 09 Oct 2021 21:00:00 +0000

SINGAPORE – When Mr. Jagathishwaran Rajo was in university, his mother was diagnosed with diabetes which became severe and required the amputation of both legs.

She became depressed and Mr. Jaga, as a household member who looked after her, began to feel the stress as well.

His extended family came to the rescue by providing strong support, and his community leaders cheered him on too.

This experience led Mr. Jaga, now 34, to recognize the importance of the various levels of support needed in difficult times – family and community support, in addition to individual resilience.

He is now one of two facilitators of Zhenghua Wellness, one of 22 projects of the Youth Mental Well-Being Network.

The idea for this came from Mr. Jaga, training officer in the industry, in the middle of last year. “We cannot look at the psychological wellbeing of young people in isolation; we have to look at the ecosystem in which parents and schools are two major players.”

Zhenghua Wellness is taking a two-pronged approach to addressing the problem, he said.

First, there will be webinars on mental wellbeing for residents who want to learn more about the topic. In October and November last year, three virtual sessions were held with around 150 participants.

Of these participants, 20 took a follow-up personal training session with case studies and role play to learn how to better support someone with mental health problems.

Of the 20, 12 were identified for a friendship program with the Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Center in Bukit Panjang, where she works with young residents who have agreed to community support.

Second, the project involved parent support groups from six neighborhood schools to offer mental health seminars to about 150 parents in August and September.

The seminars dealt with, among other things, how parents can involve their children and support them in a meaningful way, said Jaga.

He hopes more community programs will be initiated to further improve the mental health support ecosystem here.

“I hope we can remove the stigma on this issue,” he said.

“Well, some people who come out for financial aid feel less paiseh (hokkien for embarrassed) than when it comes to mental health issues. I want to call it something that everyone needs and that is an integral part of our lives. “

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Face to face with discrimination, shame, strength and beauty Fri, 08 Oct 2021 15:04:02 +0000

Carey Candrian, PhD, knew the statistics.

“Almost 50% of older LGBTQ adults say their doctor doesn’t know they are LGBTQ, and the stress of hiding takes their lives off for up to 12 years,” says Candrian. “Seventy-six percent of older LGBTQ adults are afraid of receiving adequate support in old age. Thousands still experience discrimination, harassment and abuse when looking for or living in senior housing. Those are big numbers. “

But when Candrian began interviewing older LGBTQ women in Colorado about their healthcare experiences two years ago as part of a project supported by the Lesbian Health Fund and the Colorado Health Foundation, she began to see beyond the statistics. She met women, ages 60 to 84, from across Colorado who had jobs, partners, hobbies, passions, and lives. Urban women. Rural women. Black and Hispanic women. Trans women. Disabled women.

Women whose stories Candrian wanted to tell.

“It’s easy to look away or disconnect when you hear general numbers about groups of people, but harder to do when you actually meet someone,” says Candrian, associate professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “These women were quiet enough to stay safe and hidden, but they are also really strong and brave and want to be heard.”

Insightful portraits

Candrian tells her stories in “Eye to Eye: Portraits of Pride, Strength, Beauty”, an exhibition that opens on Thursday, October 14th, in the Fulginiti pavilion for bioethics and humanities on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The show features Candrian’s photo portraits of 20 different women, accompanied by quotes about their struggles as LGBTQ at a time when coming out could mean the loss of your job, your home, or even your family and friends.

“I denied myself for 40 years. I became who I am by the next 40. Now I have a life to live. “

“The hardest part was when she died and I couldn’t tell that we were married. We were together for 33 years. “

“The purpose of the exhibition is to meet people behind these numbers and show how real people’s lives are affected by these statistics,” says Candrian. “When you visit the exhibition, you will actually have the feeling that you are on an equal footing with these older women. And the quote will give you a feel for their story. “

Health Care Concerns

These stories include struggles with health care providers, be it concerns about hospice and assisted living, obstetrics / gynecology, or family support with a difficult diagnosis.

“It really doesn’t just affect their lives, but it also affects their health,” says Candrian. “If you worry that if you talk about who you need in the room, who your lawyer is, who can speak for you, who needs bereavement care, it will have serious consequences for your mental health, physical health and grief counseling the actual health health consequences. “

Carey Candrian, PhD

It’s an area that has long been a research focus of Candrian, with publications in The Journal of Women and Aging, The Gerontologist, The Journal of Palliative Medicine, and elsewhere on LGBTQ women’s unique experiences in the healthcare system.

“Many of them have told stories, whether it was direct discrimination they experienced with the health system or fear of coming out,” she says of her recent studies, carried out by the Lesbian Health Fund, the Colorado Health Foundation and the National Health Institute. “Many have a distrust of the health system. By 1973, they were told by the American Psychological Association that they had a mental illness. As a result, many of them postpone routine care, which has health implications.

“If you are already afraid of breaking into the health system when providers start asking, ‘Name of the woman?’ ‘Husband’s name?’ ‘Is your family in the waiting room?’ they close pretty quickly, ”continues Candrian. “It burdens them to have to be the one who keeps coming out. I think people underestimate how difficult it is and how important it is, especially when you are sick and anxious. “

Similarities and differences

Because of this, Candrian is keen to teach her palliative care practitioners the importance of being sensitive to potential differences in patients, and that’s why she put together the Eye to Eye exhibit to remind people that differences are all around us are even if we can’t see them.

“I hope it stays with the people,” she says. “This exhibition is not going to return 12 years to anyone, but after seeing these women, after reading their quotes, I hope people think differently when interacting with patients, co-workers or friends. Because that’s a good start. “

“Eye to Eye” opens with a reception from 4–6 pm on October 14; an RSVP is required. The regular opening times of the gallery are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the Exhibition page for more information and to RSVP for the opening reception.

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Community calendar from 10/11/11 to 10/18/21 Wed, 06 Oct 2021 19:46:43 +0000

* Community events *

Antigo Area Community Food Pantry October 13thNS 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Wed) & October 15NS 13: 00-15: 00 (Fri), 2120 Progress Blvd., Antigo (715) 623-1103. We ask everyone who wants to use the food pantry to wait in the car or outside and a volunteer will give you instructions on how to service. Our monthly donation focus in October is on the holidays: cranberry sauce, gravy, box filling, pineapple (in juice). Further information can be found at:

Shared pantry in Elcho October 11thNS & 18th OctoberNS 2.30 p.m.-4.30 p.m. (Mon.), October 13thNS 4-6 p.m. (Wed.), 11224 Antigo St., Elcho. Individuals are given a food checklist and can indicate their choices and then submit the list. Food will be distributed based on availability and the number of family members. Note that the pantry is not open on public holidays or days when schools are closed due to snow. (715) 275-5010.

AVA Autumn’s Blessings Art Show September 22nd – November 18NS 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Langlade County Historical Society Museum, 404 Superior St., Antigo. The AVA Autumn Blessings Art Show takes place at the AVA Gallery in the Antigo / Langlade County Historical Society Museum. The art gallery is open during the museum opening. September Museum opening times are Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The winter opening times start in October. The winter opening times are Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by and browse the gallery. Further information can be found at

Coffee and conversation at Langlade County’s Senior Citizens’ Center October 11thNS – 15th OctoberNS (Mon-Fri) 9-11 a.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Mah Jong at the Langlade County Senior Center October 11thNS & 18th OctoberNS 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Owl-O-Ween tours 12th of OctoberNS, fifteenNS & 16NS (Tuesday in October and select Fridays and Saturdays) 4:30 pm-6:00pm Raptor Education Group, Inc., N2160 W. Rollwood Rd., Antigo. In October, treat yourself to a trick or treat and meet some of the most mysterious creatures of the night in Wisconsin! Discover folklore, myths and legends that associate owls, crows and vultures with this spooky season! Come early and paint pumpkins with us and enjoy warm cider and hot cocoa! USD 12 per adult and USD 8 per child 12 and under. 16: 30-17: 00: Pumpkin painting (optional), 5-6pm: Owl-O-Ween Tour. Pre-registration NECESSARY! Register online at or give us a call 715-623-2563.

Knitting and Crocheting at the Langlade County Senior Center October 13thNS 10-11: 30 a.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Bingo at the Langlade County Senior Center October 13thNS 1:30 p.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Langlade County Cards, Cribbage and Dominoes Senior Center October 14thNS 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Pickerel Area 50+ Club Potluck October 14thNS At noon St. John Lutheran Church, Pickerel. The Pickerel Area 50+ Club meets for a potluck meal. The Ukulele Club provides entertainment.

Stone soup band in the senior center 15th OctoberNS 2-4 p.m. Langlade County Senior Center, 904 5NS Ave., Antigo.

Crossroads Community Theater Presents – Eat, Drink and Be Murdered (An Irish Family Feud) 15th OctoberNS & 16NS Doors open at 7 p.m. The WOWSPACE, Vinal Str. 114, Wittenberg. Presale tickets only. Tickets are $ 12 per person. Available from cast members, Hanke’s Sentry Foods, or by calling 715-253-3525.

Antigo Junior Women’s Craft Sale October, 16thNS 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Langlade County Fairgrounds, Multipurpose Building, 1633 Neva Rd., Antigo. The show will include 142 rooms with unique artisans and vendors. There will also be cake sales, food and refreshments. Entry is $ 2 at the door or $ 1 with a non-perishable food donation. Children under 10 are free when accompanied by an adult. Tickets for the raffle are $ 1 each or 6 for $ 5. The prizes include: quilt, basket with various gift cards, various gift certificates, and various baskets.

Doty’s Dusty Dog Dryland Race October, 16thNS-17NS 9 am-6pm Doty Town, 14504 Cty. Rd. T, mountain. Doty’s Dusty Dog Dryland Race will take place in Doty town from October 16-17, 2021. The race starts on Saturday at 9 a.m. and ends on Sunday at 6 p.m. This is a premier dryland racing event with rig, kickbike, bikejoring and canicross. This event is free for spectators.

Trick or Treat Corn Maze October, 16thNS 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Schairer’s Autumn Acres, 194 Western Ave., Birnamwood. There are treats for the children at each of the 10 checkpoints in the maze. More information is available at

Doomed Pines Haunted Event October, 16thNS 7:00 p.m. to midnight N1385 Cty. Rd. D, Antigo. The Perdition Pines Haunted Event welcomes its guests for its 4th dates are: October 16thNS, 23approx, 20NS & 6th NovemberNS 7:00 p.m. to midnight; Oct 31NS 7-11pm & November 7thNS 7-10.30 p.m. Children’s day is October 23approx 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. General admission is $ 10 and VIP admission is $ 20. 100% FREE PARKING. From our parking lot you have a short walk to the main event and our attraction. We apologize for the inconvenience; This event / attraction is not barrier-free. All of our guests have to walk, stand and be well balanced to get through successfully. Buy tickets or get more information at

Trinity Lutheran Church in Merrill Blood Drive October 17thNS 8 am-1.30pm Trinity Lutheran Church, 107 N. State St., Merrill. To plan your lifesaving donation, please call Jean at (715) 536-4715. In order to keep our donors apart, we ask that you register in advance. This blood donation campaign is carried out in collaboration with the Community Blood Center

*To meet*

City of Antigo Park, Cemetery and Recreation Committee meeting on October 11thNS 5:30 p.m. City Hall, 700 Edison St., Antigo.

Antigo Optimist Meeting October 13thNS Noon until 1 p.m. Michaels Restaurant, 410 Hwy. 64, Antigo. Check the website for information on lunchtime meetings and speaker updates. The meetings take place every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Social distancing is practiced. Virtual meetings are also possible. Please email the President of Optimist for information on virtual meetings: The website provides information on lunchtime meetings and speaker updates at:

Joint Antigo Council meeting on October 13thNS 6:00 p.m. City Hall, 700 Edison St., Antigo.


AA support group (open) October 13thNS, October 17thNS (Wed & Sun) 7:00 p.m. 1005 Fifth Avenue, Antigo.

Anonymous narcotics October 11thNS, 12th of OctoberNS, 15th OctoberNS & October, 16thNS (Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat) 7:00 p.m. 1005 Fifth Avenue, Antigo.

Overeaters Anonymous October 11thNS & 18th OctoberNS (Mondays) 7-8pm SS. Mary & Hyacinth Parish Center, Room 4, 819 Third Avenue, Antigo. Contact: Rose Marie, 715-623-2128.

Self-help group for healthy respect 12th of OctoberNS 10:30 am – noon AVAILABLE Shelter, Antigo. If you are interested, please call or email. Contact: Roberta Darling at 715-623-5177 or email:

Weekly Griefshare Grief Support Group October 11thNS-December 20NS (Mondays) 5: 00-6: 30pm Peace Lutheran Ministries, 300 Lincoln St., Antigo. Get help and encouragement after a loved one dies. Griefshare is a special weekly seminar and support group designed to help you rebuild your life. We know it hurts and we want to help. In person: Enter the Fellowship Hall through the doors on 8NS Avenue.; Zoom / Online: Pre-registration, call the office at 715-623-2200. Pastor Dan Kohn and Sarah Stoehr will be moderators.

Use the outreach house October 13thNS 11 am-2pm Avail Outreach House, 814 6NS Ave., Antigo. The Avail Outreach House is now open to the public every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We have men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. We also have household items, baked goods and more. For more information, please call Jillian at 715-623-5177.

Children’s clubs in the Antigo Community Church October 13thNS 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Antigo Community Church, 723 Deleglise St., Antigo. One Way is for grades K-2 and CrossTrainers is for grades 3-6! Everyone is welcome to take part in the fun games, songs, Bible stories, and small group lessons. We can’t wait to find out more about Jesus with everyone every Wednesday this year at the Quest Center! For more information, call 715-627-2805.

REALIFE student service October 13thNS 7.30pm-8.30pm Antigo Community Church, 723 Deleglise St., Antigo. REALIFE is designed to be a safe place where Junior & Senior High students (grades 7-12) can invite friends to join in a night of encouragement, fun, and community. At REALIFE we will introduce the gospel to the students and teach it to be used in life. We will play games, make ice breakers, worship, teach and interact in small group conversations. For more information, call 715-627-2805.

If you would like to include an upcoming event or ongoing group activity, please email the information to

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Therapist Reena Nath emphasizes the role of the family in the child’s development Wed, 06 Oct 2021 04:49:13 +0000

Families not only play a crucial role in the development of the overall personality, but actively influence the psychological adjustment of adolescence, problem-solving strategies, strengthening of self-confidence and the ability to set clear goals. The healthy functioning of these interaction patterns increases the psychological well-being of an individual.

Experts around the world have found that a vulnerable family environment (poor family function, poor social support, and mental stress on caregivers) is an important predictor of children’s mental health. It also predicts that these needs will not be met.

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescence, researchers concluded that a poorer family environment was associated with less emotion-focused support seeking and cognitive restructuring, and more emotional and behavioral problems. It added that a positive family environment helps adolescents adapt and ensure the ability to deal effectively with stress. They also claimed that children growing up in poor family settings can suffer from depression and anxiety.

On the occasion of Mental Health Week, News 18 reached out to Reena Nath, a New Delhi-based psychotherapist and systemic family therapist. Nath has worked in several countries and organizations – the Marlborough Family Services Center, the Anna Freud Center and the London Marriage Guidance Council, UK. She also offered group therapy in crisis situations in Punjab, Kashmir and Afghanistan, the latter under the United Nations. She was the secretary of the Indian Association of Family Therapy, a board member of the International Family Therapy Association, and currently serves on the board of the Journal of Family Therapy.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Based on your long experience in family therapy, do you believe that an abusive family environment affects a child’s growth – both mentally and physically?

Yes sir. Yes, of course you can. An abusive family environment also affects children emotionally and academically. An abusive environment would encompass everything from physical violence towards the child or violence among adults to verbal abuse. And I would also like to add that harmful parenting practices can also be negligence. For example, when a child is injured and denied medical treatment, it is part of a poor upbringing. Not all bad parenting is inherently abusive, sometimes they may not be an active abuse, but there would be negligence and they affect the children in different ways. Some children become violent actors or perpetrators or victims, and sometimes they have both. In this way, these childhood experiences are carried on and carried on in the families. In some cases, these children become anxious adults or have other mental health issues that prevent them from leading full lives. After all, it also affects their relationship with friends and partners.

Children are resilient, however, not every child exposed to any form of negligence or abusive family practices will develop negatively. Some of them stay healthy and become more aware of things and advocate that they should become better parents and partners. But, especially at a very young age, abusive environments have a major impact on children. However, despite good parenting practices, people sometimes have misguided ideas. We know that we can grow up as neurotics, if not more severely psychotic. But these things are within normal functioning with some dysfunction that we all have, but help is available for that and it can be overcome.

Not only would abuse from the family affect a child, abuse from the family environment can also lead to consequences, especially if you are an immigrant or live in a very caste-bound area, then the entire family is abuse.

Amid a massive spike in domestic violence and prolonged isolation, how has the pandemic changed the family structure?

The pandemic has definitely affected family dynamics, sometimes negatively. And especially in families where there are people in need of care or families with physically or mentally handicapped people. Due to prolonged isolation and lockdown, they were unable to leave the house, resulting in tension, stress, anxiety and fatigue from months and months of relentless care which I believe negatively affected people. And I think within that feeling of pressure there could have been violence and abusive practices. And for fear of contracting the disease, there was no one to help, no one to intervene. People felt broken down, helpless and hopeless. In several cases, people did not seek help thinking what someone would do in this situation.

But on the flip side, some families I spoke to found that during the pandemic they got closer and felt more connected as the outside pressure was on them, they didn’t have to deal with any part of the world. Some relationships have healed themselves due to the lack of stress and hectic working hours. The rise in domestic violence may have occurred in families where a caregiver and a patient required 24-hour surveillance.

Q. Would you share your social work experience while working in rural Haryana? And how was that different from working with Sanjeevani?

One of the biggest differences was the rural and urban decor. Sanjeevani was one of the first accessible crisis intervention centers and that could only happen in New Delhi in those years. So we were faced with a stark difference between an awakened and more conscious population compared to the rural segment. In Sanjeevani the people were “self-centered”, they heard about the center and decided to go inside, while in the rural areas of Haryana, Kashmir and Punjab the people of the rural areas of Haryana, Kashmir and Punjab had never heard of mental health problems, they had to do with it but never knew what it is actually true. It was a big challenge telling people that it was ‘ok to talk’. In Haryana we did not have direct access to patients, but we reached them through medical staff who were remarkably good at their jobs. They were fully aware of the patients’ cases, which helped us tremendously with treatment. They were aware of the patient’s family situation, they were empathetic towards them and all of this was a great welcome surprise for us. Meanwhile, we were still fighting the mental health stigma in urban areas. It was a big deal for people to go to a therapy center and deal with their deteriorating mental health. Unlike in rural areas, people in urban areas are much more isolated and there is no sense of sharing or community.

In the context of India, has the mental health awareness scenario changed in the past two decades? Do you see more parents bringing their children to therapy sessions?

Absolutely, it has changed. Now there is a lot more acceptance of getting help and there is a visible difference in saying that I have depression or anxiety or that I need professional help to improve my mental health. Now at the latest we know that if we are going through something, we have to see a psychiatrist and not a general practitioner, which was not the case two decades ago. However, the stigma is still prevalent, people suffering from manic-depressive or mood disorders are still reluctant to seek help. Families caring for a mentally ill girl or boy do not want them to step out of their home, all of which is due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Given your years of experience in the field of psychotherapy, how do you think India’s mental health infrastructure can be improved? And what role can the public play?

First and foremost, we need to address the shortage of mental health professionals who care for a huge population. It is a serious problem, the government needs to increase the number of doctor positions in psychiatry and set up more colleges to encourage students to study clinical psychology, social work, and family therapy. Therapeutic intervention is another need of the hour that should be available in every department of a hospital, rather than just a team of mental health experts for the entire hospital.

Institutional support is lacking – insurance companies don’t cover mental health costs so people don’t even apply, and all westerners are covered by their mental health insurance policies.

At the organizational level, people are reluctant to contact their HR department to request leave for psychological reasons. Several people I have met believe that this vacation could be an obstacle to their professional development. In order to strive for an overall infrastructural development, structural changes are required on the ground floor.

However, there have been some positive changes at the educational level, with several schools now having advisors on board to help children address problems, combat stigma and find solutions. Recently a family was referred to me from their school after they beat up their child, this was an interesting development and a concrete example of a shift in the mental health scenario.

We also need more walk-in centers like Sanjeevani and government intervention to create these centers with the help of social groups and NGOs. This can make treatments for mental illness more affordable and accessible.

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