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Counseling center opens ‘warm line’

GLOVERSVILLE — Amid disruptions to the daily lives of most if not all state residents while temporary restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus remain in place, the Family Counseling Center has launched a free “warm-line” call-in service to assist locals experiencing worry, anxiety or depression as a result of the fast moving changes.

Family Counseling Center Executive Director Michael Countryman on Wednesday said the idea for the “warm-line” came together as staff members began hearing concerns from members of the community, as well as employees and their families over the emerging coronavirus pandemic and new measures to limit its spread.

“This is a new norm for us all. We are used to having social interaction with each other, we all enjoy each other’s company, and all enjoy going to work, now a lot of us are working remotely or some have been laid off. We as humans need that connectivity between each other and maybe there also stressors at home with kids being home for more extended periods of time when we’re used to their being in school,” said Countryman.

Recognizing the potential stresses and worries local residents are facing while practicing social distancing for the first time, Countryman said the Family Counseling Center saw an opportunity to give back to the community on a larger scale by creating a “warm-line” phone service staffed by trained Family Peer Advocates who can speak to each caller and offer support.

“In most cases it’s going to be resolved over the phone,” said Countryman. “Most people just need to hear that their concerns are normal. Everybody is worried, everybody is concerned for themselves, their families, their jobs and their future. It’s normal. This is a situation this generation has not experienced and it’s OK and normal to be fearful. It’s OK and normal to be worried and most people just need to have those concerns validated.”

While reassuring callers that current measures encouraging residents to stay indoors while many businesses are closed and to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and others when they venture out are only temporary, the Family Peer Advocates can also suggest relaxation techniques and provide access to information and helpful resources.

“It could be just slowing down breathing focusing on breathing, it could be going outside and enjoying a nice brisk walk, if you have a dog or cat or pet just enjoying that time where there’s peace or pick up a book and start to read it. Whatever it is that brings you joy and relaxation while still maintaining that social distance of six feet that is being recommended,” said Countryman.

For anyone in need of a higher level of care, Countryman said peer advocates can connect callers with the Family Counseling Center’s other resources, including its crisis team.

Countryman said the “warm-line” began receiving calls soon after it went live on Tuesday and the free service will remain open for as long as the restrictions remain in place and possibly into the future depending on need.

“If the need continues and we see that the community needs it we will extend it beyond the COVID-19 pandemic as a support to everybody in our community because we all can use a friend or somebody to listen to us and not everybody has that resource or support in their lives,” said Countryman.

For now, Countryman encouraged locals to remind themselves that the current aimed at keeping themselves and those around them healthy and safe are only temporary.

“We will get through this together,” said Countryman. “This will pass, we’re not sure when, but it will pass and then we can look back on it and hopefully learn some things and start having more of those close interactions that we’ve been accustomed to having our entire lives and enjoy and that will be a great reason to celebrate.”

The Family Counseling Center’s “warm-line” call-in service can be reached at (518) 725-4310, Ext. 333. The free non-crisis phone service is available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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