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The Village Project aims to support children of parents with mental illnesses and their families. Due to the shutdown of educational and care facilities and the loss of familiar daily structure, many families find themselves under additional stress. The associated loss of contact and learning from home can become a stress test for children and their parents. In addition, there is the spatial confinement and lack of leisure activities that do not offer any compensation. During this difficult time, therefore, there is not only increased family stress, but often more serious problems, such as increased aggression and domestic violence. Families in which one parent has a mental illness are often hit even harder. In order to offer the children a balance and the parents a relief, the Village project has additionally developed an online offer that works very well even in times of "social distance". The online offer was developed together with stakeholders, under a OIS approach (Open Innovation in Science). The goal of this offering is to ensure that families do not have to break contact with their Village coordinators and can continue to work on their own support network. In addition, the parents and children participate in scientific surveys, which allows the support approach to be further adapted and thus, with a bit of luck, to be included in the Tyrolean regular system.
The pandemic has made it difficult for families to participate in the project. Therefore, not enough families have been recruited for the Village project so far. One of the reasons is the reduced contact between clinical staff and the patients, whereby the challenging situation also becomes a burden for many families and overwhelms them. However, we were pleased to find that the participating families largely find the support offered positive and helpful. Consequently, the Village is currently in talks with the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Province of Tyrol to discuss a possible extension of the project.