Ozark Center launches Help Kids Cope, an app for Apple devices. Developed in direct response to the May 22, 2011, tornado, the app provides guidance on age-appropriate communications about natural disasters with preschool, school-aged and adolescent children.
“As a healthcare provider, we can heal injuries such as broken bones,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “However, it was apparent the emotional healing from the tornado would take much longer. During the past five years, Ozark Center has been instrumental in providing help to adults and children struggling with grief, loss and post-traumatic stress syndrome.”
Since the tornado, Ozark Center added and expanded programs to meet the growing mental health needs of the community, including Will’s Place, which provides comprehensive behavioral health services to individuals from birth through age 21. Technology-based programs such as TXTAboutIt, virtual reality exposure treatment and biofeedback equipment have also been added. Earlier this year, Ozark Center released Super Me!, an app that helps children develop resilience and positive coping skills through a series of in-game and out-of-game activities.
In cooperation with the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and the Missouri Foundation for Health, Ozark Center developed Help Kids Cope, an app that provides guidance in addressing 10 types of disasters, including tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes and winter storms. The app features audio clips that share other parents’ experiences and tips on speaking to children before, during and after a natural disaster event.
“This technology allows parents to have invaluable information by their side at all times,” said Mary Parrigon, Ozark Center Executive Director. “Most people don’t carry a brochure or pamphlet, but they usually have a smartphone. We feel having this information instantly available will not only comfort a child, but provide peace of mind to parents.”
Help Kids Cope helps adults understand how children commonly respond during and after disasters and offers checklists to help families prepare for natural disasters.
“A child’s reaction to a natural disaster, such as a tornado, is often influenced by how their parents and other caregivers cope during and after the event,” said Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Vice President of Clinical Services. “Help Kids Cope provides the tools parents and caregivers need when they’re approached by a child for information, comfort and help.”
Help Kids Cope by University of California-Los Angeles, is free to download from Apple App Store and requires no in-app purchases. Funding for the project was provided by the Missouri Foundation for Health, Ozark Center, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. For 2016, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman one of the top Hospitals in Southwest Missouri more than four years in a row, and The Leapfrog Group gave Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2015 Hospital Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com or facebook.com/freemanhealthsystem or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at twitter.com/freemanceo.
About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Mo., Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.