Local counseling practice emphasizes mental health for infants/toddlers amid pandemic

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GENEVA, N.Y. (WROC) — The global pandemic has some counseling practices adapting to what kinds of services they provide. One Geneva-based non-profit counseling service, Family Counseling Center of Finger Lakes for children and families is introducing a new mental health program for infants and toddlers.

Head of the program Mirandia Pipher says between stress a parent can have from the pandemic, and even just wearing a mask all the time – it’s really going to have an impact on development from the second a child is born.

Pipher says infants regularly notice their parents’ facial expressions, emotions, and smiles – and copy them. But with masks covering half of our faces, and maybe added stress from the pandemic – babies may not know how to feel.

“When they’re given just our eyes, you don’t get that full range of emotion,” she said. “Additionally, the pandemic has caused a major lack of social interaction in these young ages … our youngest kids really strive for social interaction and right now they’re getting it through screens, or not at all, or only with the people in their household and we can only hope those interactions are positive,” she said.

Pipher says parents – new or seasoned – are adapting to these changes every day. She wants to help them power through.

“We have parent consultation which is just me and a parent, we also are developing a support group of a community of parents that are kind of walking through this season together.”

The takeaway – if you’re stressed, your baby senses that, and may copy you. So don’t be afraid to make your mental health a priority – if that means seeking help in any way, seek help.

“Take a minute for yourself its not selfish, its what you have to do to care for other people, there is no one right way to do this to parent during a pandemic, your neighbor may be doing it one way, or another, and for them that’s what they need to do.”

The new program is made possible by a state grant, funded through the Office of Child and Family Services.

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