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‘You are not alone’ – NY Project Hope provides ‘Coping with COVID’ support group

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- If you have been feeling overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic you are not alone. According to the CDC from August 2020 to February 2021 the percentage of adults with anxiety or depression increased from 36% to 42%.

Professionals at the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier said they see the impact of COVID-19 every day. They said the increase in anxiety and depression has resulted in more substance abuse, domestic violence, and the ending of relationships.

"It's important to recognize even though COVID has been going on for quite some time we still are seeing the residual effects," said Program Coordinator Joann Funaro, " Some new issues that have been brought to our attention primarily center around people losing employment and over the vaccine mandate."

The increased need for resources has led to four to eight-month wait times for therapists in some areas.

That's where NY Project Hope comes in, to provide a bridge.

New York Project Hope, which is funded by FEMA, helps the community through resources such as an emotional support helpline, educational materials, and trusted referrals.

"We're able to go into people's schools, into agencies and employers, and provide support groups as well," said Team Lead Jill Lloyd, " We're community-based which is great, we get to be boots on the ground."

The Broome County Project Hope chapter will host a support group at 2 p.m. every Monday at MHAST/Sunrise Wellness Center, 47 Broad Ave., Binghamton NY.

Lloyd said in the sessions people will be able to connect with others going through similar struggles, explore coping skills, and have emotional support.

"There's a lot people can do to actively decrease that anxiety that just kind of builds in all of us," said Lloyd, "I've been doing a lot with people with guided meditation and breathing, we have people planning to do groups on nutrition and sleep and exercise and all of those things that provide a daily balance for people but it also gives people a space to talk about their concerns in a safe space and have it be heard."

Their overall message is that they are there to listen.

"You're not alone, we're not alone," said Funaro, "I think we're all impacted in different ways and I think it's important to recognize that everybody suffers and struggles differently and we all cope differently."

You cant contact the Broome County Project Hope Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling 607-778-9075.

Kaitlin Pearson

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