CCDPH is celebrating Everyday Heroes of the COVID-19 response. Everyday Heroes are people living, working, or volunteering in suburban Cook County who are helping each other during these extremely difficult times. To see more Everyday Heroes, please see this page.
Heroes of the Week
Roxanna Chavez and Marisol Arreola take healing out of the office
In Cicero, and its neighboring communities, accessing mental health services has never been easy. The cost of care, not knowing how to access services, and the lack of culturally appropriate treatment are everyday barriers.
COVID-19 added another layer of complexity, but two therapists at Cicero Family Services, Roxanna Chavez and Marisol Arreola, rose to the challenge. Not only did this week’s heroes juggle taking care of themselves, their families, and transitioning their existing clients to a tele-health model, they also developed a bilingual webinar series on self-care and coping strategies for community members.
Cicero Family Services serves over 1,000 individuals struggling with mental health challenges through individual, family, and couples counseling. For people without Medicaid or insurance, the community-based mental health treatment center provides treatment on a sliding scale basis. Eighty-five percent of their clients are Latinx, and half prefer services in Spanish. Ninety percent of Cicero Family Services staff are bilingual and bicultural.
Starting in March, Marisol and Roxanna starting working at home and transitioning their existing caseload to tele-health services. COVID-19 increased the demand for services, and sheltering-in-place and physical distancing took a toll on their communities.
Roxanna cites a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found that 21% of adults who were sheltering in place say that worry or stress related to the coronavirus has had a major negative impact on their mental health. “The community and the surrounding area really need us now more than ever,” says Marisol.
Adjusting to tele-health wasn’t easy, but there has been a silver lining. “Here in the Cicero community, families tend to live in smaller apartments with a lot of people,” says Marisol. My clients say ‘Yes, I’ll do Zoom meetings with you but I’m afraid that my mom might listen to me.’” Marisol, Roxanna, and their clients had to be creative. Marisol asked her clients if they felt comfortable walking around the neighborhood or sitting in their car during their sessions.
“In the office space,” Roxanna explains, “we‘re the ones that are shouldering this burden of creating a safe space. Now it’s something that we’re working on together with our clients. It can really strengthen that therapeutic bond.”
For one of Marisol’s clients, holding virtual therapy sessions in her client’s home meant that her parents were more easily engaged, and the client saw great improvements. But it’s also been difficult for some clients, especially families with children, because of the increased pressures of job loss, school closures, and the other impacts of COVID-19.
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Updated June 26, 2020, 11:17 AM