BOSTON — Recognizing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on children’s mental health, the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) joined forces with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to launch handholdma.org, a new, family-friendly website for parents and guardians of school-aged children who are concerned about their child’s mental health.
The site provides families with tips, tools, and resources designed to help them navigate their child’s mental-health journey with confidence. The content, which is targeted to families with kids ages 6 to 12, was developed by a team of mental-health and child-development experts as well as family and community partners. A creative team from IDEO Cambridge designed the user experience and branding.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that there has been an impact on the emotional well-being of many residents across the Commonwealth, including our youngest residents,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “As families continue to navigate these unprecedented times, tapping into expertise through handholdma.org can help them better understand their child’s mental health and find available resources.”
The site’s content is organized into three main sections:
• Should I worry? This section helps parents and guardians explore whether their child is just being a kid or if their behavior is something to worry about. Families can learn about signs to look for and get suggestions on what to do next.
• What can I do? These are tips, tools, and strategies that have worked for other families in the past.
• Who can help? This section includes carefully selected community organizations and government resources to help families find the right mental-health services.
The handholdma.org project was developed with input from individuals representing the diversity of Massachusetts’ communities, and is available in six languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, simplified Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.