Arthur Center Community Health and Show Me Hope Missouri are pairing up to bring counseling and resources to people impacted by COVID-19 in Callaway County.
The challenge, according to Arthur Center Disaster Relief Team lead Shelonda Hamilton, is finding people who need help.
“We can’t go door to door this time,” she explained during a virtual Callaway Resource Network meeting Thursday. “We’re doing more of reaching out to health departments, hospitals and people like (Central Missouri Community Action) trying to find people who’re affected by COVID-19 so they can get group counseling.”
Arthur Center is based in Mexico but has an outpost in Fulton. The organization offers a wide variety of services: crisis intervention, behavioral health services, dental care, supported employment and more. In 2019, Arthur Center received a grant from Missouri’s crisis counseling program, Show Me Hope Missouri, aimed at providing group counseling to individuals affected by the floods of 2019. Just as that program was ramping up early this year, COVID-19 hit and Missouri re-upped the grant with a focus on COVID-19 support in Callaway and several other counties.
“Our main goal is helping people with their mental status,” Hamilton said. “A lot of people can get financial help but don’t nobody think about how they’re feeling mentally.”
She added the flood support program continues, though her team is now spending a majority of its time on the COVID-19 support program due to its vast and ongoing impact.
“Can’t no one say they weren’t affected,” Hamilton said. “I’ve even been affected. I’ve lost family members from COVID-19.”
The program helps people in two main ways: connecting them to resources to meet physical, structural and economic needs (such as rent assistance and employment opportunities), and helping them find mental health support (such as group or individual therapy, or psychiatric help).
With the former, the Disaster Relief Team acts more as a go-between, helping people find resources they might not know about.
“We try to help them get back on their feet, get resources so they can get their life back to some type of normalcy,” Hamilton said. “We don’t have actual funding to give them, but we can put them on the path to find funding.”
When it comes to mental health, the team can provide more direct assistance. The team includes a crisis counselor and a specialist focused on helping people find the support they need, including through group disaster counseling sessions on Zoom.
“The specialist has group counseling going, starting today,” Hamilton said. “She’s got school-aged children she’s going to be doing group counseling with.”
She can also help preexisting groups set up their own group counseling sessions.
“You might just want to be in a group for people who are going through the same thing you’re going through,” she said.
The specialist will also be reaching out to parents and teachers, in particular.
“Their mental status is important,” Hamilton said. “If their mental status is not okay, they won’t be able to go out and get those resources they need.”
The team can also refer people experiencing sever reactions to formal mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
These programs and resources all focus on helping people regain a sense of mastery and control over their lives, a slide-show shared by Hamilton stated.
Hamilton’s team is still working on getting the word out — she sent flyers to schools and churches and plans to print and distribute door hangers about the program soon.
People curious about the program may reach Hamilton via email at [email protected] or phone at 573-975-9974.