CASA Keeps Connected During COVID-19

With the community in focus, CASA ups their game to keep in touch with those who need their support.

“COVID is a time when resilience reveals itself in many kids and parents,” child psychologist Dr. Andrew Bremness said. “Our strengths may shine under stress.”

Dr. Bremness works with Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, (CASA) which is a community-based provider of mental-health and addiction services for infants, children, adolescents and their families, serving Edmonton and central and northern Alberta.

The doctor points out that now, the closeness we have with our families can be beneficial to parents and kids. We get down-time together, we connect in more attached ways. “And this improvement attachment improves every other domain of mental health,” he said.

But that is the bright side. The other side is that the pandemic has hit CASA pretty hard, resulting in limited financial and manpower resources due to a significant decline in donations and the cancellation of various fundraising events.

“Given the health and safety of staff, physicians, patients and their families are our top priority,” said Ryan J. Guenther, director of corporate services at CASA. ”So, innovative solutions are required.

“For instance, all clinic-based services have been moved to phone- and web-based rather than in-person appointments, where possible, in order to increase social distancing,” Guenther said. “Group treatment is currently on hold. All program managers are currently working with their staff to identify any high-risk families who will need in-person support, including the logistics of how this can be safely facilitated.”

On Wednesday, April 29, Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) helped CASA expand their remote consultation with a $19,500 grant through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. ECF began strategic COVID-19 granting on March 19 and established the RRF on March 25. The fund was established with $500,000 of ECF’s discretionary dollars and has doubled its impact, thanks to ECF’s generous donors and community partners.

“Even in the best of times, the sooner mental health problems are addressed, the better,” says Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of grants and Community Engagement. “Current stressors make this all the more true and also require mental health services like CASA to be innovative.”

This grant, according to Dr. Bremness, is truly needed.

“For those kids and families already struggling with neuro-developmental or mental-health issues, COVID stress only makes it worse, and more unbearable symptoms arise,” he explained. “For every parent-child relationship there is a well-known cycle: We are attuned. A stressful disruption occurs.  There is a repair.  We are re-attuned again, but now at an even better level of attunement, because of the skills and effort that went into ‘the repair’.  Without repair, families and children spiral downwards.  The skill and effective effort of repair is the work of CASA.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.