Real-life scavenger hunts, virtual “Dungeons and Dragons,” take-out restaurant play. These are some of the creative ways that Vermont youths are staying engaged with services and supports to care for their mental health needs despite the obstacles presented by coronavirus restrictions. 

Trauma-Informed Care to Help Children and Youth Struggling with Mental Health Concerns

NFI VT (Northeastern Family Institute) is one of a network of community mental health agencies serving Vermont youth, families, and adults. Helping children who struggle with significant emotional and behavioral challenges, often as a result of trauma, is a particular focus for NFI. For these youth, as with others healing from past psychological trauma, continued access to mental health support is not just important. It is vital. 

For many kids who have lived through early abuse or neglect, trust is not something easily built. Creating relational connection is critical for kids who have histories of trauma and whose healing is dependent on being loaded up with lots of predictable, patient and repeated caregiving in order for them to trust in adults. Managing emotions and behavior and being able to “regulate” throughout a day is a goal that kids served by NFI take in small steps, a bit at a time, and work to eventually master.

Making all that happen without real human-to-human contact presents a formidable challenge.

Creative Strategies Keep Connections Open, Thriving

“I’m trying to be really creative right now,” says NFI Community Skills Worker Lauren Porell. “Maintaining our connection is the most important thing. I’m working to help kids be comfortable with me through the phone and computer.”

Porell has put together a great resource guide to virtual activities and excursions that youth and adults can explore together.

Read more about NFI counselors’ creative response to the challenges of keeping the channels of mental health support open in the midst of a still-unfolding crisis here. In addition to the work of NFI, agencies around the state are providing innovative solutions during this time to youth, families, and adults. Contact any of the Vermont Care Partners’ network agencies to learn more.


Need to talk?

Call 2-1-1 (option #2) or 866-652-4636 (option #2) for free, confidential, one-on-one counseling. Our Support Counselors are available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

In crisis? If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825;  text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health agency for 24/7 support. 

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at Don’t forget to follow COVID Support VT on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, to stay up-to-date, sign up for our newsletter and blog.

Learn about upcoming Wellness Groups and Workshops from COVID Support VT, and Town Halls we’re hosting in partnership with community organizations.

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Departments of Emergency Management and Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of sixteen non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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