The Colorado Mesa University nursing department and the faith-based Project 1.27 are helping to support the mental health of foster, kinship, and adoptive families in Mesa County. Despite the limitations that COVID-19 necessitated, these two dedicated partners succeeded with their inventive program that offered real-world experience to nursing students while making connections and promoting mental health for their child and family clients.
A pilot program called Healthy Habits was started in spring 2021. The series hosted client families on video calls through February and March. Nursing students prepared and delivered presentations and introduced resources like “Ollie the Feelings Octopus” and “The Grump Meter,” as the group discussed awareness and strategies to support their mental health and overall happiness.
“We really wanted to offer opportunities that would benefit nursing students as much as they would benefit foster families,” said Sharon Bouse-Ferry, support manager of Project 1.27. “The last year has been really challenging, particularly for families involved in foster care. The impacts of trauma, abuse and neglect were issues families were looking to address and manage pre-COVID. Add health concerns, loss of income in many cases, and systems and resources being limited and overwhelmed, and supporting the mental health of families was a huge priority for us.”
Terry Chase – MA, ND, RN, of Colorado Mesa University bachelor’s degree of science in nursing program, had a deep desire to offer real experiences and perspectives to her students.
“Community impact is a major part of this work,” says Bouse-Ferry. “It’s an honor to work alongside Terry and nursing students as we learn and support these families in organic ways that benefit everyone.”
By the end of the series families were asking for more opportunities like Healthy Habits.
“It was remarkable really. We really believed in the content being shared, says Bouse-Ferry. “We knew that connection was such a huge part of our collective mental health, but it wasn’t until we heard the stories of the youth and children in these homes saying this was the best part of their day, and until we got text messages from families asking how they could make up sessions they’d missed, that we understood just how impactful this program was and how impactful it could be.”
Learn more at project127.org.