The COVID-19 pandemic is still among us, and you’re not alone if you or others in your family are feeling stressed. The State of Alaska recently conducted a survey on the impact of the pandemic, which showed over half of respondents reporting their mental health had gotten worse in recent months, and nearly a third had used alcohol or drugs to cope. Parents reported that over two-thirds of children were at least somewhat stressed about distance learning and other changes in their routine.
Many families are struggling financially, and natural surveillance systems are not in place to identify and address when a child needs support. Prior to COVID-19, data from the Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed a significant increase in suicide attempts by youth, nearly doubling from 2007 to 2019, as well as half of youth who reported access to a loaded gun (2019). Nationally, we know that rates of substance misuse are increasing during this time.
These surveys indicate a critical need to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services overall. They also show that we as a community need to provide earlier access to these services at a younger age and decrease the stigma around accessing them. While there many lives have been saved, our community continues to suffer these tragic losses of life. It is for all of these reasons VOA Alaska is focused on making sure people that when people reach out to us, they can get the help they need quickly and easily.
Continuing to provide these behavioral health and family support services is a critical piece of our health care and response system. Our caring and professional team members are prepared to help youth and families through these trying times. All it takes is a phone call to (907) 279-9640 to get started today.
Thank you for your continued support through these difficult times. As always, VOA Alaska is here to serve our community and support the hope, health, and healing of every Alaskan.
President & CEO of VOA Alaska
Updates on VOA Alaska Programs
Youth Behavioral Health
NEW – Rapid Connection Service
We continue to devote ourselves to supporting those who find themselves in need of services, by ensuring staff availability to rapidly connect with a professional. Rapid Connection has allowed us to provide supportive services at the exact moment when those who are suffering are looking for help. Rapid Connection creates the space to explain the process of engaging in services, benefits of therapy, answer any questions that may come up, or just an ear to listen. Asking for help is not easy, so ensuring the care entry process is fast, easy, and comforting when individuals work up the courage to call is true client-centered services.
The Kinship program is making numerous updates to improve our service for families. Upon enrollment, each family will receive a personalized welcome packet, which contains a relevant relative-caregiver specific book, a community resource list, a children’s health record book, and more. They will also have access to a new and improved lending library, which is made up of books covering numerous topics for all ages, from raising a relative child to social justice.
Public Health & Prevention
Throughout the month of June, our prevention department delivered over 100 tobacco quit kits. Quit Kits include a quit line business card, cost calculator, quit line pen, and some goodies.
We also delivered 60 Deterra drug deactivation bags! (If you are interested in a quick 49 second video tutorial of how the drug deactivation bags work, click here.) This is a small step in keeping Anchorage a safe and healthy place by ensuring proper medication disposal.