INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Countries around the world are experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases as society reopens furthering coronavirus anxieties. But a new initiative launched by a local hospital is coming to the aid of communities most vulnerable to the virus in an effort to help them grapple with these fears.
Franciscan Health created what they call “Family Wellness Kits,” a product of the hospital’s Community Health Improvement Team. The kits provide resources geared towards parents/caregivers and children and include chore charts and tips to practicing healthy, stress-relieving habits as well as ways to enhance summer learning.
Trauma associated with the outbreak affects everyone. However, Katie Hill-Johnson, system-wide administrative director of Community Health Improvement, is particularly concerned with how the coronavirus is affecting children.
“Childhood trauma has been the focus of ours for over two years and we quickly assessed families and found that many feel overwhelmed and remarkably stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson told News 8. “We knew the sudden changes [due to the coronavirus] would stress already stressed families and that reaction could lead to abuse, neglect and household dysfunction.”
Indiana already ranks high for child maltreatment, Johnson added, and professionals are concerned with children’s emotional state post-lockdown.
The first round of kits was distributed in April. The second round of 3,000 deliveries is underway and also include mental health tips, information about how physical activity reduces stress and fun activities families can do together — all of which cannot be underestimated at this time.
In an April interview with Fox News Health, Carol Ewing Garber, PhD and director of the applied physiology lab at Columbia University, Teachers College said, “Anxiety is meant to pass through the body. When a person holds onto stress, harmful biological changes occur causing damage making a person more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer among other illnesses including the coronavirus.”
The best things people can do, Garber added, are things that can improve physical and mental health such as exercise, engage in enjoyable activities and practice stress reducing techniques such as yoga and meditation.
All of these resources are included in the Family Wellness Kits, said Johnson.
“Franciscan Health is strongly committed to serving vulnerable people. By providing Family Kits filled with information for parents/caregivers and activities to occupy kids, even just for a few moments, we hope to give families some tools to lower their stress levels.”