After switching all in-person counseling services to telehealth mode in response to the coronavirus crisis, Open Sky Community Services, a Worcester-based nonprofit that provides services for people with mental health challenges and developmental and intellectual disabilities, decided to create a series of advisory videos to benefit the larger community.
Open Sky Community Services launched Coping during COVID with six videos three weeks ago. Each, hosted by a senior staff member, is up to four minutes long and provides practical guidance on topics such as dealing with anxiety, staying sober through the crisis, and overcoming sleep challenges.
"The project grew from our president and CEO who suggested doing a webinar," said Lorie Martiska, vice-president of advancement for Open Sky. "We discussed it and felt that a lengthy webinar would limit the number of people who'd engage with it, and that presenting information in little chunks would make it more accessible."
Each video is scripted by the presenter and recorded at home where they are working these days. Heard Strategy & Storytelling, Open Sky's public relations firm, produces the final product, editing as required and adding titles and introductory music. Each video concludes with an on-screen listing of resources related to the topic being presented. Turnaround time from script writing to finished video is about a week.
So far, the videos have garnered more than 1,500 views through the Open Sky website and another 900 via YouTube.
In addition, the videos have been distributed through partner organizations, including the Office of the Worcester County District Attorney, the City of Worcester, and the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, based in Framingham.
"To date, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people asking if they can share the videos with others," Mariska said.
Engaging with the larger community is not new for Open Sky. Through its Bridge Training Institute, for example, Open Sky staffers regularly share evidence-based information and skills with other counselors and school personnel across Massachusetts. The difference now is that the videos are oriented to a non-clinical, more general audience.
Another eight videos are currently in the pipeline. Some will expand on existing topics, such as how to stay centered, while others will focus on new themes, including how to keep motivated and what to do if you're at risk of being homeless.