Vimenti makes call to action to address negative effects of COVID-19 on mental health
The government, the private sector, philanthropy, nonprofits and community leaders must work more closely to mitigate the negative effects on mental health caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean region, said Bárbara Rivera-Batista, executive director of Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico
During her participation in the virtual mental health forum “Responding to COVID-19 and Facing Future Crises in the Caribbean,” produced by the Clinton Global Initiative’s Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, Rivera-Batista presented the measures that Vimenti used to identify the needs of the Ernesto Ramos Antonini housing project community facing the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of them was to carry out a census in the communities it serves, which reflected that 31% of their participating families had at least one member who lost his job and 65% of the children did not have internet service or computers at home to continue their studies online at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Working with the family as a center, understanding their needs and gathering resources to deal with them have been a key element for the continuity of services,” Rivera-Batista said.
Through its educational, social and economic development pillars and its two-generation model, Vimenti forged alliances with other entities to provide food services to the community, internet access and iPads to each student of Vimenti School.
The Center also developed the “Tu Bienestar Vimenti” health program to address health problems in the center’s students, participants and the community members. Services were provided online and through referrals.
During the sixth edition of the Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery forum hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative, participants discussed how the pandemic has impacted the Caribbean region.
In addition, they also stressed the importance of collaboration between governments, the private sector, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and community leaders to address the most urgent needs and opportunities of the most affected communities in the region.
“To face future crises, it is important to create a solid infrastructure that addresses the effects of pre-existing and new trauma caused by different traumatic events. We must also train the staff that will be assisting students first-hand during the return to classes so that they are prepared and can handle the traumas caused by the pandemic in the classroom,” Rivera-Batista said.
Vimenti is currently working in partnership with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to bring evidence-based practices to deal with trauma and give tools to teachers and caregivers to work directly with vulnerable populations.