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YMCA introduces telehealth counseling support during COVID-19 pandemic

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In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is now offering telehealth counseling to support children, teenagers and adults in need of outpatient behavioral health services, including mental health care and addiction recovery.

The shift to telehealth during the ongoing crisis enables the Y to ensure continuity of care for current clients, including 1,000 public school children, and provide access to others in need of outpatient behavioral health treatment, according to a press release.

“In this time of crisis and mandated quarantine, the importance of connection is never more critical, especially among our most vulnerable neighbors,” YMCA President and CEO Laurie Goganzer said. “The Y is pleased to offer virtual support safely and securely to meet our community’s mental health and well-being needs.”

The Y’s team of licensed clinicians can connect with outpatient clients by phone or video conference for confidential counseling sessions. While in-person care is preferred, telehealth is providing access to many people who otherwise would not be receiving treatment, said LeeAnn Wagner, the Y’s vice president of counseling and social services.

Wagner pointed to the Y’s school-based counseling program which provides therapeutic counseling to children and adolescents at their schools.

When the pandemic shut down New Jersey schools, mental health services were disrupted for children on 89 school campuses in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties served by the Y’s clinicians, according to the press release.

“Thanks to telehealth, children and teens struggling with issues can connect again and get the care and support they need from the Y’s caring therapeutic counselors,” Wagner said.

William George, superintendent of Middletown Township Public Schools, said his district is grateful for the Y’s support services, especially when children and families are adjusting to a myriad of changes due to the health emergency, including virtual learning from home.

In addition to virtual counseling for children, the Y provides telehealth services for mental health and addiction recovery. Services include initial assessment and evaluation, individual, group and family treatment psychiatric services, and referrals to local resources, according to the press release.

Urgent in-person counseling is available at the Y’s outpatient office locations in Eatontown and Matawan, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment.

For information about telehealth and in-person counseling, call 732-290-9040. A daily answering service is available after business hours. Anyone experiencing an emergency should call 911.

Families may also access no-cost referral services at the Y’s Bayshore Family Success Center in Middletown. The center is operating remotely and can be reached at 732-497-3811.

Goganzer said the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is one of only a handful of Y’s across the country that provides extensive counseling and social services to the community.

The nonprofit organization also leads the Traumatic Loss Coalition for Monmouth and Ocean counties, suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following losses due to suicide, homicide, accident and illness.

According to the press release, in addition to telehealth counseling, the Y is supporting other critical needs in the community despite the temporary closure of its health and wellness facilities.

These services include emergency child care for essential workers at the Freehold Family YMCA; crisis food box distribution for Fulfill at the Y Freehold Borough Community Center and Bayshore Family Success Center; blood drives; and “drop and go” food collections.

The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County formed the countywide Y on Sept. 1, 2019. There are health and wellness facilities in Freehold Township, Old Bridge and Red Bank; outdoor day camps in Millstone Township and Wall Township; a community center in Freehold Borough; counseling and social service centers in Eatontown, Matawan and Middletown; child care centers in Freehold Township, Matawan and Red Bank; and the organization is integrated in nearly 100 schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

To learn more about the Y’s emergency response efforts, visit www.ymcanj.org or connect on social media by following @ymcaGMC.

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