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Englewood Health Supports Mental Health during COVID-19 Crisis

Hospital partners with Bergen Family Center’s school-based family programs to provide supportive services for youth and families

In response to the growing number of children and teenagers experiencing anxiety and depression in the U.S., intensified by the emotional toll COVID-19 has taken on the youth population in 2020, Englewood Health is expanding its behavioral health and emotional wellness programming for youth at risk for poor health outcomes. To do this, Englewood Health has partnered with Bergen Family Center’s (BFC) Division of Adolescent Services—which includes the ZONE, a school-based youth services program—to support the emotional and mental health of the youth they serve, as well as their family unit as a whole. 

Funded by a three-year grant, made to Englewood Health from the Palestroni Foundation, the program—which began in January 2020—aims to provide psycho-education for youth and caregivers through workshops, webinar series, educational materials, and support groups offering coping skills for navigating various challenges. 

Recognizing a need for increased access to support, the Englewood Health team started accepting referrals to begin individual therapy using diverse modalities, assessing the needs of youth participants, and providing a range of support-based services to address specific concerns. 

“We recognize the unmet need for quality behavioral health services to address the challenges faced by our youth,” said Darline Jerez, LCSW, community health program liaison at Englewood Health. “Prior to COVID-19, the rising rates of anxiety and depression alone showed us that youth interventions are a major need in our communities. Since COVID-19, not only have the rates increased but the severity of symptoms has worsened. The pandemic uncovered concerns that were once minimized, even neglected. The time has come for youth mental health challenges to be viewed and addressed with the same intensity and significance as any other need.” 

Additional youth interventions focus on artistic expression and healing, such as yoga and art therapy, and self-care strategies promoting mental and emotional stability, accessible through podcasts, presentations, and online material. 

Caregiver support workshops—conducted in English and Spanish—educate caregivers on the specific needs of children and adolescents, providing a processing space, building on parenting skills, and strengthening familial relationships. 

“Our partnership with Englewood Health will expand our reach to teens and their families as they navigate this public health crisis,” said Elizabeth Corsini, MPH, vice president at Bergen Family Center. “Englewood families have been disproportionately impacted by the combined trauma brought on by COVID-19 and systemic racism. This partnership will help mitigate the stress, anxiety, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty that today is a reality for so many young people and their families.” 

The series of initiatives resulting from the local partnership have seen strong engagement from youth and families. Both the Englewood Health and BFC teams are confident this influential work will equip the community at large with the coping skills and resiliency necessary to make it through difficult times and come out stronger on the other side.

Posted on December 22, 2020

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