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Arkansas virtual support group to guide parents as school begins during pandemic

Every Wednesday in August, Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas will host a free virtual support group for caregivers, calling it "pandemic parenting."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — A virtual support group is giving parents some much-needed guidance before school starts in a couple of weeks. 

Every Wednesday in August, Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas will be hosting a free virtual support group for caregivers, calling it "pandemic parenting."

Parenting is far from an easy task, but parenting during a pandemic is another battle, as Michelle Coleman, clinical therapist, explained. 

"These are things that we've never experienced. We've never had to address these issues in the past," she said. 

Issues like keeping up with virtual school work, wearing a mask, and navigating working from home. 

"There's a lot of concern because we don't know a lot of information," she said. 

According to Coleman, amid all the unknown, Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas noticed a specific need.

"Parenting is a difficult job and we need support and people need to be able to accept that without any type of stigma attached," she said. 

In the one-hour zoom session, parents will be able to voice their challenges and present their strategies, while Coleman will provide tools and advice to help them navigate the new normal. 

"Not that anyone is a particular expert, but we can say, 'this is what I have experienced. This is what I've found that is helpful or not helpful,'" she said. 

Coleman said reminding parents to take time for themselves during all of this is extremely important and she compares it to the analogy that you hear on the airplane.

"When the oxygen mask falls, apply to yourself before you do your child because you can't help your children if you don't help yourself first," she said. 

This weekly support group is serving as a message to parents everywhere, they aren't in this alone. 

"It's just giving them support to know that they're other people in the same boat and that together we can get through this," Coleman said. 

The first pandemic parenting support group is Wednesday, Aug. 5 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

The meetings will be held weekly at 5 p.m. on Aug. 12, Aug. 19 and Aug. 26. 

You must register by the day before the meeting. To register and receive the Zoom meeting URL, email: maggie.adams@bhsarkansas.org. 

You can also visit their website or call their office at 501-954-7470.