An estimated 30,000 school children, government workers and other members of the community have received free, confidential support from crisis counselors over the last year to cope with the pandemic and two devastating hurricanes. The grant funding for the services is about to expire and those involved hope to get an extension.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the grant for the V.I. Health Department to provide services for people coping with natural and human-caused disasters. In turn, the Health Department contracted Island Therapy Solutions on St. Croix and Insight Psychological Services LLC on St. Thomas to initiate the Community Resiliency Project in August 2020.
“CRP supports short-term interventions that involve assisting disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress and developing coping strategies, providing survivors with emotional support and encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies that help survivors in their recovery process,” Liz Llanos, outreach coordinator, wrote to the Source.
The support services, in the form of advice and self-care health tips, are furnished over the phone, via Zoom and through Facebook. Clients are free to identify themselves or keep their names confidential, according to Khefren Sackey, crisis counselor for Island Therapy Solutions on St. Croix. Some of the help he provides is to individuals and at other times, he is speaking to a class or group of parishioners. Some of the help he extends is information and tips on deep breathing, self-gratitude, decompressing, journaling and exercise.
There are two crises counselors on St. Croix and two on St. Thomas. They sometimes meet individually with those coping with depression, anxiety, stress or other mental health issues. If deeper counseling is needed, they are referred to another professional in the two organizations.
The program is set to expire on Nov. 7, but Llanos said the Health Department is trying to extend it.
Until then, the project is accepting new clients and the counselors and other members of the Community Resiliency Project are visiting malls, neighborhoods and radio stations talking about the program and leaving brochures.
Llanos said that schools or organizations interested in free presentations on coping skills and stress management should contact 340-719-7007 or 340-774-2228.
Island Therapy Solutions is a mental health provider offering psychological services, including individual and group therapy, neuropsychological evaluations, psychiatric services, physical, occupational and speech-language therapies, adult autism and other services.
Insight Psychological Services is also a mental health practice and they offer therapy, assessment, psychiatry services, medication management, group and individual therapy, couples counseling, testing for ADHD and learning disabilities, and other services.