13:24 PM

Help kids thrive with award-winning Bloom

 At the start of the pandemic, Kim White’s son, Zeke, was three years old. He had been attending daycare full-time when schools and daycares closed in March 2020.

“I remember him asking me, ‘Mommy, why am I not going to see my friends?’” says Kim, a wellness consultant in Associate Wellbeing and Safety at Nationwide. “It’s hard to explain a pandemic to a three-year-old.”

Then, after going back to daycare Kim noticed some emotional changes in her son – especially in the way he connected to his friends.

“I began noticing really small things, like more frequent outbursts,” she says. “All of these things are completely normal for toddlers, but I wanted to be able to support him and help understand what he might be feeling from an emotional perspective.”

When she found Bloom was offered by Nationwide to its associates – a free, confidential set of resources created by the behavioral experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital On Your Sleeves Movement  – she saw it as an opportunity to learn some tools and strategies she could use now and in the future. Bloom offers short courses that help parents and caregivers build mental wellness habits, start mental health conversations and recognize when kids need additional help.

The Nationwide Foundation teamed up with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to fund the Bloom program. The program recently earned Nationwide and Nationwide Children’s Hospital the prestigious Halo Award for Best Health Initiative from the Engage for Good organization.

“We’re proud of our partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide the Bloom online curriculum, which offers resources for families to have these conversations,” said Vinita Clements, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at Nationwide.

“We know in the mental health field there’s a lot of things we can do to help our children thrive, and there are things we can do to support them when they’re not doing well,” says Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., executive clinical director of On Your Sleeves and a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “That’s what exciting about Bloom. There are different tracks depending on your needs.”

Supporting your family’s mental health
Dr. Hoet joined mental health experts from Optum Behavioral Health and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation earlier this month for a panel discussion on family mental health at Nationwide in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month. The panel, which included Clements and Tina Thornton, Associate Vice President of Associate Wellbeing and Safety at Nationwide, talked about the trends and issues impacting the crisis in mental health, how parents and family members can support the mental health needs of children and loved ones, what to look out for and the ways to get help. 

In addition to Bloom, Nationwide offers all associates and their household members up to 16 visits per issue, per year with a counselor through its Associate Assistance Program (AAP). The Associate Wellbeing and Safety team at Nationwide provides emotional wellbeing resources including interactive digital tools, mindfulness activities and mental health training for leaders.

By using Bloom and other mental health resources, Kim says she feels better equipped to help her son. She now knows what questions to ask and what behaviors to look for in the future.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect parent,” she says. “But I do believe in being educated and having tools that help you make things easier for your children and help them feel seen.”