THE end of lockdown has for many families not meant the end of the distress endured throughout restrictions and providing care in isolation.
But a Mornington-based, not-for-profit disability support provider is reminding families that there is help for the challenges ahead.
CEO of Biala Peninsula, David Greenwood, said the provider had more than 320 children under its care across the peninsula and wanted to stress the importance of therapy to help build on the positive strengths of the family unit, and “create a sense of rhythm and routine”.
Biala family therapist Elsha Young said many families needing therapeutic support for their child were already feeling isolated and vulnerable, with the mental health of families directly impacting children.
Ms Young said the recent cycle of repeat lockdowns meant that parents had to constantly dig deeper, well beyond their comfort zones and invariably, on their own.
“Anxieties grew and the flow-on affect upon children often left them and their families exposed, with household tensions amplified,” she said.
“During the lockdowns, therapists continued to provide support, but it quickly became obvious that therapists too were having to work within similar parameters of the challenges faced by families.
“As one therapist observed, ‘families were already feeling isolated because of their circumstances and this was exaggerated because of the lockdowns, so us going into the home when permitted was empowering for all of the family, not just the child’.”
Biala social worker Tiana Boyd said face-to-face care delivery was a critical feature of the therapeutic support provided to children, since much of the approach was based around strength-based collaboration.
“Yet with schools closed, jobs furloughed or lost, family confidence eroded, finances stressed and needs exacerbated by events, the challenges associated with maintaining routine and structure became that much greater,” she said.
“Therapists are now having to respond to post-lockdown recovery dynamics, which will not be immediately solved, by far.
“For many children, masks have become a symbol of stress. Families think of their own circumstances, not about ‘being all in this together’.”
Mrs Young said it was not common for parents with limited access to the services they so desperately needed fearing that they had failed.
“And the sense of exposure and vulnerability has been escalated even further, so any response is certainly not an overnight fix,” she said.
“Many of us in the community will quickly recover from the disruption through work and lifestyle, but equally, some families who have experienced extreme stress, need to adopt a slow, measured and gradual approach to any readjustment, for the benefit of children and families alike.”