Starlight Programs Reducing Stress in Patients

Contributions by Jennifer Beckjord, PsyD – UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Megan Ice, Ph.D - Cambridge Health Alliance, and Ruchi Patel, PsyD, MPH – Banner Children’s Specialty 

The last few years have been incredibly stressful for many with the ever-changing social climate and the ongoing effects of the pandemic. For kids entering the hospital, stress and anxiety start at the door. From having to remove their own clothes and put on a hospital gown to being isolated from family and friends, hospital stays can be one of the most stressful experiences for a sick child.  

“Stress is an inevitable part of our lives and it’s important to help children develop a balanced view of it,” says Dr. Beckjord of UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. “Stress is not necessarily bad, and as with most things, stress in moderation can be beneficial – it can be motivating, and confronting stressful situations can lead to growth and learning!” 

That’s where Starlight comes in. 

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With programs like Starlight Gaming, and through the power of play, hospitalized children are able to express themselves and imagine a world that is different than their own. They can play out various ways of relating to others, connect with others in a non-performance-based manner, and feel creative and special. 

“Starlight programs have been used in a variety of ways to support our pediatric community. They have served as incentives and rewards when children meet their therapeutic goals and have supported my patients by increasing motivation and improving their sense of self and overall positive functioning.“ - Dr. Patel, Banner Children’s Specialty 

Programs like Starlight VR and Starlight Deliveries can also be used as modes of distraction to uplift a child’s mood during stressful appointments. It is safe to say most children do not enjoy attending medical appointments or staying in the hospital for long periods of time, thus Starlight programs are here to help them feel more comfortable and less anxious.

“Starlight programs allow our patients a chance to be a kid again and have fun for a bit, which then helps them to better connect with our staff, manage their feelings, and reintegrate back into the community.” - Dr. Ice, Cambridge Health Alliance 

Many people minimize the importance of play in learning to communicate, be creative, and connect with others, but at Starlight we know that happy kids heal faster and what's better than playing to create a happy kid? 

Help hospitalized kids reduce their stress with Starlight programs.
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