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How a virtual support group is helping parents through the pandemic

Arkansas parents will be able to join a virtual support group to help each other during the coronavirus pandemic.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Parenting during a pandemic has been anything but easy. 

Every day, new challenges arise, especially as families prepare to get back to school. 

That's why Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas (BHSA) is offering a free, virtual parent support group to help parents help each other.

LaMorla Smith is a proud grandma who strives to be the best she can be each day. She said it’s been a challenge helping her grand kids through the many emotions and questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My youngest one cried like a baby,” she said.

She said he was asking a lot of questions about when he could see his friends or go back to school. He was even scared he or his loved ones could die.

“There were all of these emotions,” she said.

That’s one big reason she's attending the upcoming BHSA virtual parent support group this month.

She said a support group like this changed her life years ago when she became a mom.

“A parenting group saved my life when I was a single parent because my mom passed at 21 and I was my only support system,” she said. “When I saw others were suffering and struggling like I was, I cried like a baby because I thought it was just me.”

That ability for caretakers to come together and help each other is what BHSA’s Clinical Therapist, Michelle Coleman, said is crucial right now. 

“Parenting by itself is difficult and hard,” said Coleman. “Parenting amidst the pandemic can be more difficult.”

Her hope is that this support group will help caretakers take care of each other.

“This is going to be a parent led group,” she said. “I will provide help and resources, but this is really parent led.”

She said it is normal that parents feel isolated, alone, and unsure during this time.

“Everyone is struggling and it’s difficult,” she said. “This is a new experience and we can provide support to one another to make it through and help our kids."

Through the struggling together and growing together, Smith said she is excited for her upcoming time with the group.  

“I want to have honest and raw feelings and dialogue,” she said. “I hope that other people will do the same things to help ourselves and each other.”

This virtual group takes place each week in August and the first session is Wednesday, August 5.

If you miss a session, Coleman said that's fine. She said you can make it to however many you'd like. This group is open to all caretakers and guardians, not just mothers and fathers.

For more info, click here.