As the omicron variant has reached Long Island, community and state officials are offering crisis counselors to residents providing anonymous and confidential mental health support.
Sayville-based Community Ambulance Co. is partnering with Youth Enrichment Services and NY Project Hope, New York State’s COVID-19 crisis counseling program, to offer free confidential emotional support this Saturday in Sayville. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Community Ambulance at 420 Lakeland Ave. and officials are asking those who attend to wear a mask.
People unable to attend can text a counselor by emailing their phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org and one will respond, or call the helpline at 631-481-9700 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Jamie Atkinson, Community Ambulance president, said when the company held drug take-back events, people dropped off drugs from family members who they lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event will focus on the "results of COVID" Atkinson said, such as "depression, anxiety, people that need to speak with somebody about some worrisome issues they have going on dealing with COVID."
The support comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday said an omicron case has been detected in Suffolk County.
Beth Levy, program coordinator for YES and NY Project Hope, said the approach when people come in is "to share about the service and to let them know there is support." YES is a provider agency founded in 1987 and serves children, youth and families on the Island. Levy said the expectation of the omicron variant is "another layer of anxiety and worry."
"It really is important people know that this free service exists," Levy said, "and it’s really getting people comfortable enough to pick up that phone and not even ask for help, just talk about what’s going on.