ymcaShift to Virtual Therapy Enables Y to Reach Children & Adults in Need

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

The shift to telehealth during this unprecedented crisis enables the Y to ensure continuity of care for current clients, including students in Middletown, Keyport, Hazlet and Matawan and Aberdeen, and provide access to others in need of vital outpatient behavioral health treatment.

“In this time of crisis and mandated quarantine, the importance of connection is never more critical, especially among our most vulnerable neighbors,” said YMCA President and CEO Laurie Goganzer. “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 now 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 who otherwise would not be receiving treatment, said LeeAnn Wagner, the Y’s vice president of Counseling and Social Services.


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Wagner pointed to the Y’s extensive school-based counseling program, which provides therapeutic counseling to 1,000 children and adolescents in the comfort and convenience of their schools. When the pandemic shut down New Jersey schools, mental health services were disrupted for children on 89 school campuses in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties served by the Y’s clinicians.

“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.

Dr. William George, superintendent of Middletown Township Public Schools, said the 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.

“Prior to beginning virtual instruction, our partnership with the YMCA provided counseling services for students in all 17 schools,” Dr. George said. “The transition to telehealth services is important due to the existing relationships between the counselors, our students and their families who view the YMCA counselors as part of our district staff. We are appreciative and proud to partner with YMCA Counseling & Social Services to offer virtual counseling services that have become vital to the social and emotional well-being of our students during this challenging health emergency.”

In addition to virtual counseling for schoolchildren, 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 community-based resources.

Urgent in-person counseling is available at the Y’s outpatient office locations in Eatontown and Matawan, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., by appointment. For information on telehealth and in-person counseling, call 732-290-9040. A daily answering service is available after business hours, and anyone experiencing an emergency should call 9-1-1.

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

Goganzer noted that 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 also leads the Traumatic Loss Coalition for both Monmouth and Ocean counties, suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following losses due to suicide, homicide, accident, and illness.

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 on March 16 to help the statewide effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. 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 Y is here for our community in crisis and we will continue to respond to the needs of our neighbors and partners,” Goganzer said.

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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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...