Friday 4 December, 2020

Gov't provides counselling amidst COVID-19, cancellation of Carnival

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox meets with staff of the National Family Services Division.

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox meets with staff of the National Family Services Division.

The National Family Services Division (NFSD) of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) is reminding the public that counselling services and psychosocial support continue to be made available.

NFSD Assistant Director Kathleen Sarkar said: “While the pandemic has encouraged families to spend more time together, it has also made room for quite a number of negatives to seep in, as the COVID-19 experience has somewhat exacerbated the situation”. 

Furthermore, NFSD Coordinator Sharon Winchester stated that issues such as depression, anxiety and in extreme cases suicidal thoughts may be amplified with emerging problems including loss of income, reduced salaries and adjustments in family or work routines. Winchester noted that these challenges negatively impact marriages and other familial relations.

As such, the Ministry through the NFSD is continuing to provide emotional support through all of its social welfare offices at various locations. Over-the-phone talk therapy is used as the initial intervention method while those requiring referrals are also connected to the relevant agencies whenever necessary.

Additionally, the NFSD hosts virtual sessions to aid in lessening the mental and emotional impacts which the pandemic has caused. Online workshop topics include parenting tips and some have been geared towards men.

Sarkar stated: “We were quite pleased with the turnout of men for our recent sessions and although they (men) appeared particularly quiet in the early part, by the end of it, they were fully interactive and left feeling more comfortable in voicing their opinions and getting themselves heard. Realizing the success of this, NFSD plans to host similar sessions in the near future where men can have the opportunity to dialogue on similar issues and find practical solutions to help cope with stress and other challenges they have and continue to encounter during COVID- 19.”

Within the next six months, the NFSD plans to host more support sessions given the anticipated fall out due to financial strain for Christmas and the impending cancellation of Carnival -  a time when many seek stress relief.

Both Sarkar and Winchester, while stressing the importance of spending more quality time with family members, also spoke to allocating time for self and for leisure activities.

They also spoke on the importance of proper communication in the homes, spending quality time with children, and in the instances of parents being separated, the need to develop and maintain proper co-parenting relationships.

Meanwhile, members of the public are encouraged to pay attention to legitimate sources to note COVID-19 precautions given by the Ministry of Health.

People in need of counselling services may contact the NSFD at 623-2608; Ext 6701 – 7.

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