Swick’s Tips, weathering a storm — and growing from it
If we were describing the past year-plus like a weather forecast, it would be cloudy … with a chance of more clouds … and then some more. Lots and lots of gray days as the world made its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. It had not only physical ramifications, but emotional consequences as well.
There was heightened stress and anxiety. Extreme loneliness and isolation. Depression. A rise in suicides. And, of course, death.
Sometimes, though, talking about unpleasant emotional weather can be helpful and healing. Dr. Susan Swick, executive director of Ohana’s Center for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, gathered a group of young people last spring to share and sort through feelings and thoughts and emotions, using weather as a talking tool.
It’s the kind of get-togethers that happen at Ohana — children, adolescents, and their families identifying and then working through challenges in pursuit of resilience and mental fitness.
"Every time a child manages an uncomfortable feeling or faces a difficult situation, you’re building mental health," Swick says. "It’s hard. They need good sleep, exercise, and nutrition. They also need to be connected to caring adults. They need adults who can cheerlead or comfort, who can offer perspective or guidance. They also need adults who know where to turn when there are concerns that a child’s distress reflects more than a passing storm."
Ohana continues to build this community of support — creating relationships with families and with other local advocates and providers — with an eye on the opening of Ohana House, the physical home of the program, in 2023.