When Janis Joseph of Port Alberni saw a social media post about another community doing a ‘heart hunt’, she thought it was a perfect activity for ‘the Community With a Heart.’ (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

When Janis Joseph of Port Alberni saw a social media post about another community doing a ‘heart hunt’, she thought it was a perfect activity for ‘the Community With a Heart.’ (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Tools exist to help parents stay connected with their kids through pandemic

Community advocate offers tips to help families navigate mental health around COVID-19



Dear parents,

In this time of lock downs and bubbles, quarantines and online schooling some families may find themselves cheering on and burning out on a daily basis. How do we keep our children motivated and joyful while keeping ourselves motivated and joyful? The mental health of families is taking many roads less travelled as we navigate from path to path.

Know that you are not alone. This pandemic will come to an end in its time, and we will rise to find our light shining brighter than before; but how? How do we find the light when it can feel as though we are being pulled down a dark hole?

We can embrace the outdoors, yes, even in the rain. We are blessed with a backyard full of new growth, breathtaking scenery and nature at its best. Breathe life into yourself and into the lives of your children. Get out of bedrooms, throw open the blinds, open doors and let the air blow through, and begin to exercise your brain, body and soul.

Read a book, take a drive, play a board game, listen to music, talk with your children and ask questions of how they are really doing and find solutions together. Find joy in the small things in life with laughter, joy and gratefulness. See life through a different lens.

READ: Community heart ‘hunt’ catches on in Port Alberni

I fear for the mental health of our children as they move forward, and feel that surviving this pandemic will take a village with a heart. Waitlists are a reality for many community supports as they do their best to maintain their over quota of so many in need. Parents are having to take the reins to help their children crawl out from their darkness to find light.

Continue to communicate with your children even when they do not want to communicate, and focus on their mental health before their academics. Lean on family and friends, neighbours and teachers and remember to breathe. COVID-19 will be a memory, but we will hold on to the memory of how we rallied together as a community and held on to each other to become greater, stronger and more connected.

There are resources available for youth and families in the Alberni Valley. A list of these was compiled by the Alberni District Secondary School Wellness Centre and provided in the January 2021 ADSS newsletter, the Grapevine.

– Alberni Community and Women’s Services (ACAWS), Harrena Gillis, youth and adult outreach, call or text 250-720-7232. Office: 250-724-7111 ext. 227.

– Alberni Drug & Alcohol Prevention Services (ADAPS), text questions to 250-918-4522. Office: 250-724-6166.

– Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) Mental Health—Teechuktl, Marla Kjernisted (outreach); wellness centre hours Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. NTC office: 250-724-3939.

– Child & Youth Mental Health Services, 4088 Eighth Ave., Phone 250-720-2650 (opt. 1). Free, confidential services for youth up to 18 years and parents. Walk-in intake hours: Wednesdays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1–3 p.m. (no appt. necessary; COVID-19 protocols may increase wait time).

– Youth clinic hours (Tuesdays/Thursdays, 2–5 p.m., Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) call or text 250-720-9591.

– Alberni Valley Community School, Sandra Karlsen counsellor, Mondays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., call or text 250-720-1910.

– Family Guidance, Brenda Kraneveldt (youth outreach counsellor), Cell: 250-735-3125. Office: 250-724-0125,Wellness Centre hours Tuesdays 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Janis Joseph operated Fresh Steps Behavioural Consulting in Port Alberni, and has worked individually with families.

mental healthPort Alberni