EMBRACE Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Take Lead on Providing Practical Tips, Videos, Resources
Pittsburgh, PA – April 10, 2020 – With social distancing, self-isolation and stay-at-home quarantines underway, schools and universities closing campuses, public events and sports seasons postponed, and fear of the unknown, EMBRACE Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation today are launching “Team-Up to Cope with COVID.” It’s a public awareness campaign aimed at practicing thoughtful, basic lifelong coping skills, including self-soothing and other techniques, that are especially helpful and hopeful reminders in the midst of a pandemic or crisis.
The “Team-Up to Cope with COVID” project focuses on addressing the emotional well-being of individuals and families during a time of particular vulnerability to emotional problems. Practical tips and resources are available online from therapists and experts, along with a series of seven “MindHack” short-form videos inspired by professional athletes we admire and respect. Their messages are intended to help an individual’s coping skills to reduce daily stress and to be mindful, empathetic, and accepting of yourself and others. Here is the link to the videos and information resources: https://www.embracepittsburgh.org/mindhacks/
Program Grounded in DBT Therapy
This coping skills development program is grounded in evidence-based treatment called “dialectical behavioral therapy” – or DBT – and combines techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness, and asserts new skills for managing painful emotions and conflicts in relationships.
The informational and interactive social media program includes:
- Practical tips provided by therapists, experts and athletes that will be accessible online and updated during the pandemic to help us to be more mindful, more effective in our relationships, regulate our emotions, tolerate our distress, and accept reality as it is;
- A short-form “MindHack” video series featuring thoughtful (and fun) coping skills through the eyes of professional athletes from Pittsburgh’s sports teams and beyond. These ambassadors discuss emotional conditions, practical tips to address them, and messages of hope;
- A social media outreach effort including updates, postings and discussions designed to promote “sharing” basic coping skills and videos to temper escalation of negative emotions through self-soothing and other techniques; and
- An opportunity for the public to literally “share” the “MindHack” videos with family and friends they wish to help; and by doing so, EMBRACE Pittsburgh will donate $4.12 (Pittsburgh area’s primary telephone area code) in this “412 Share Challenge” each time a “MindHack” video is “shared” from Embrace Pittsburgh’s Facebook page or web site, creating a total contribution of up to $41,200 to the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Emergency Action Fund, where mental health is a key priority.
“Feeling anxious is normal during a crisis, but it can be more effectively managed through social connectivity despite the physical distancing we are experiencing,” said Cindy Citrone, founder of EMBRACE. “Fostering emotional well-being through coping skills development is the foundation of our program. We are grateful to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and our team of advisors involved in contributing to this project,” said Ms. Citrone.
Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation President Dave Soltesz said, “People from all walks of life are experiencing stress at this time. Our Foundation is pleased to be part of a community awareness program in which everyone at home has the potential to benefit by engaging and sharing information via social media. Athletes are an important part of Pittsburgh’s team culture and we are glad to help shed some light and hope for all.”
Project & Content Collaborators
The core team involved in collaborating for this effort comprises expert therapists, psychiatrists, counselors and program leaders, including:
- Dr. Kenneth Nash, Chief of Clinical Services-UPMC Western Behavioral Health; Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs & Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry-University of Pittsburgh; and, chief psychiatrist of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins;
- Expert DBT therapist Dr. Carla Chugani, PhD, LPC, Assistant Professor, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine-University of Pittsburgh Dept. of Pediatrics, and therapist at UPMC Western Behavioral Health;
- NHL Star, former Pittsburgh Penguin, and NHL broadcast Analyst Colby Armstrong;
- Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation President Dave Soltesz, a regular collaborator with EMBRACE Pittsburgh, co-partner for “Team-Up to Cope with COVID”;
- Participating professional athletes including current NHL/Penguin star Bryan Rust, NFL Hall of Famers and former Pittsburgh Steeler legends Jerome Bettis and Troy Polamalu;
- Dr. Kimberly Blair, Associate Professor of Psychiatry-University of Pittsburgh Dept. of Psychiatry; and
- Cindy Citrone, CEO of Citrone 33 and founder of EMBRACE Pittsburgh, and former pediatric occupational therapist.
About EMBRACE Pittsburgh
EMBRACE Pittsburgh provides in-person and online educational and experiential opportunities for Pittsburghers to learn and practice self-care while engaging with their communities. The program is grounded in evidence-based skills from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) for which the Citrone Foundation sponsored the launch research, development and implementation of a university academic course infused with the principles of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
EMBRACE Pittsburgh’s program resources include many “skills and drills” focused on learning to reduce daily stress, and to be mindful, empathetic, and accepting of yourself and others. EMBRACE is one of the Citrone Foundation’s special community initiatives. For more information, visit https://www.embracepittsburgh.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/EmbracePGH/.