CHIEF executive officer of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), Kaysia Kerr, says several parents across the island have been taking advantage of the agency’s helplines.
The 36 helplines, which were launched on April 6, were put in place to assist with the psychosocial first aid of parents during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The decision to introduce the helplines was done in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Victoria Mutual Foundation (VM Foundation) and the Fight for Peace organisation.
The helplines are manned by parent mentors who are trained in psychosocial first aid. Their responsibility is to provide peer-to-peer support for parents across Jamaica as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support may be in the form of, but not limited to, the provision of information relating to COVID-19, support for students’ educational needs and psychosocial support.
Kerr, speaking with JIS News, said that up to May 1, some 90 per cent of the callers to the helplines have been females.
“Some persons were frustrated with the [distance] teaching and process, and others wanted to know about PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education),” she said.
“Some [callers] were seeking food and financial assistance, others were frustrated with Internet issues associated with distance learning, some were curious, a large number of parents were frustrated and just wanted someone to talk to, while others had deep-rooted issues and just wanted to talk,” Kerr added.
She pointed out that some of the calls also came from parents who were concerned about COVID-19.
According to data gathered by the NPSC, between April 6 and May 1, some 356 calls were received.
It also revealed that most of the calls were from the parish of St Catherine during that period.
Many of the callers were provided with encouragement, others requested prayers, while the majority of callers requested and were provided with a range of information.
Kerr said that according to parent mentors manning the helplines, after persons were able to vent their frustration, most were “not as anxious anymore or their anger dissipated because some of them were frustrated to the point of anger; some said they felt happy; some more relaxed and calmer”.
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