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The Heartbeat Goes On

Telehealth Provider | Western Youth Services

The Heartbeat Goes On

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting all of our lives. Stress, fear, and anxiety are heightened; we want you to know that help is available and you are not alone.

Western Youth Services (WYS) has been part of the heartbeat of the Orange County, California community since 1972 and we are here and available to you NOW. To make it easy to receive the help you may need, all of our offices can be reached and appointments made through one toll-free phone number 888.312.0406. We also provided additional resources that are detailed in this article.

If you believe that you or a loved one is currently at high-risk, call 911 or immediately transport them to a hospital. Do not attempt to access emergency mental health care through this website or email.

Telehealth at Western Youth Services During COVID-19

We responded to this crisis by gathering resources that will be needed and by moving the majority of our services to a virtual platform so we are able to ensure that all children, youth and their families have access to preventative, early intervention and intensive therapies and related services – even now we aim to bring out the best in every child, creating healthier and happier families.

As this crisis escalated at a rapid pace, we knew that we had to move very quickly because our organization is an integral source of mental health support for the most vulnerable in our community. I would like to take a moment to share and acknowledge the level of caring and commitment that our team of more than 250 professionals, administrative staff, board members, volunteers, and interns displayed as we went into action to make our services available amongst the uncertainty.

Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our clients, staff, and our collaborative partners. Telehealth or more specifically teletherapy is the solution. WYS moved most of our services online so we can continue to provide critically needed mental health services throughout our community. Very limited appointments are still being scheduled for services in our outpatient clinics based on the needs of the children and our established safety protocols and evidence-based best practices.

We’re currently providing confidential, HIPAA-compliant virtual therapy sessions using Zoom, the online video-conferencing platform. Zoom is readily available on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, it’s user-friendly and FREE for our clients.

Our outpatient clinics and corporate office are minimally staffed; you can learn more about our locations and the types of services currently provided on the Contact page of our website.

Although COVID-19 has been an unplanned challenge, it’s been an opportunity for growth here at WYS. Our internal management meetings have gone virtual, too. The feedback we’ve received so far from both staff and clients is very positive.

  • Families are experiencing the value of Telehealth in supporting them during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • We see that continuing some of the things we are doing as an organization once COVID-19 is over will benefit many.
  • For our staff who are able to work from home, they have shared how grateful they are to be able to continue to provide essential services to our community and help to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Telemeeting - Management Team | Western Youth Services

More About Telehealth

Telehealth includes remote therapy. The American Psychological Association guidelines explain the various telecommunication technologies utilized in telehealth. They include but are not limited to telephone, mobile devices, interactive videoconferencing, email, chat, text, and Internet (e.g., self-help websites, blogs, and social media). Technology helps the mental health provider and client communicate confidentially and virtually.

Telehealth is growing in all wellness sectors due to the ability to see more clients and minimize costs. Mental health services are well-suited for virtual treatment since appointments do not typically include physical exams, reduces stigmatization, and it’s convenient for both clients and providers.

Children and teens adapt to virtual therapy well. They’re already comfortable tending to their lives on screens and to them, this is one more service or app to add. One of our therapists who has conducted several teletherapy sessions due to COVID-19, said they went well. They expressed that it is similar to Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) sessions that we’ve been conducting at WYS for many years.

The COVID-19 health crisis and the order to stay-at-home made telehealth a necessity to slow the spread of illness. Outside of the immediate need, at WYS we have been wanting to implement teletherapy for quite some time. This type of service will make it easier for people who might otherwise have trouble showing up for an in-person appointment or have other types of limitations accessing our much needed behavioral or mental health care.

This is significant, even in the best of times, when one is living with mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. For some, getting to appointments can be very stressful for children and/or their parents or caregivers and can keep them from getting the care they need.

If you have any questions about telehealth or would like to make an appointment, call toll free to 888.312.0406.

A New Era of Training – Virtually

Telehealth | Western Youth Services

WYS is the leading agency responsible for the new Behavioral Health Training Collaborative. In December 2019, together with five local area partners, we began providing mental health and wellness trainings at no cost to residents in Orange County, CA. As COVID-19 spread through California, we immediately moved our trainings and workshops online. Families, agencies, schools, and communities can all benefit from attending these trainings. The topics are designed for those with little or no previous behavioral health knowledge, as well as accomplished professionals, such as:

  • Children, youth, and families residing in Orange County
  • Public/private schools, child care sites, colleges/universities
  • Veteran service agencies, law enforcement, homeless/housing providers, religious/faith-based centers
  • Nurses, doctors, clinicians, and other medical/health professionals.

Some topics include Suicide Prevention, Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health 101, Teacher-Child Interaction Training, Strong Families/Strong Children Military Program, Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences, Preventing Homelessness in LGBT+ Youth, and more!

All no-cost training courses are funded by the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA), Behavioral Health Services, Prevention & Intervention, Mental Health Services Act/Prop. 63.

Learn more, register for the trainings, and be sure to invite others to attend with you.

COVID-19 Resources

Throughout Orange County, there are countless resources available to assist the community during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve gathered them together and created the WYS COVID-19 Resource Center. We will continue to add information as it becomes available and hope that this resource page makes it easy to find and obtain the assistance you may need.

We are also sharing relevant information on our social media platforms so be sure to follow us on your favorite platform, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Social Isolation Contributes to Stress and Anxiety

COVID-19 and the related social isolation and uncertainty we’re experiencing is stressful and can easily become overwhelming. One of the biggest impacts for children and teens is the closure of schools. A sudden change of routine is difficult. Lives are disrupted. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but during times of crisis, tempers can flare and emotions can quickly escalate.

I recently learned that one year after children experience social isolation, 35% experience symptoms consistent with PTSD. This led me to think about how each of us can keep a watchful eye on our children for signs that they may need some extra attention, a positive distraction, or professional help. We know that parents, caregivers, neighbors and teachers (even remotely) can make a difference.

A few things to be mindful of are:

  • Noticing an increase of fear and worry about their health and the health of others
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Feelings of anger or fear
  • Inability to self-regulate
  • Return of addictive behavior
  • Thoughts of self-harm or harming others
  • Any noticeable change in behavior

If you believe that you or a loved one is currently at high-risk, call 911 or immediately transport them to a hospital. Do not attempt to access emergency mental health care through this website or email.

Self-Care Recommendations to Relieve Anxiety

Brene Brown Quote | Western Youth Services

Self-care must be a priority, particularly if you are a caregiver.

The changes we are experiencing are hard and unfamiliar. As is self-isolation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed a little self-care can go a long way. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Take a news break
  • Exercise, even a quick walk around the house will help
  • Get fresh air
  • Meditate
  • Close your eyes and take several deep breaths
  • Try to eat healthy meals
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Keep a predictable schedule
  • Do something that’s fun as a family: sing, dance, listen to music, create art, cook, exercise, or simply be
  • Find ways to be together with people that are important to you. Connect with family, friends, neighbors – with a safe social-distance or virtually

The Heartbeat Goes On

None of us anticipated this crisis, yet I believe there is always a silver lining. This time presents an opportunity to deepen our commitment to ourselves, the people we love, and our community. Although most of us are isolated at home, we CAN help each other get through this together.

Please reach out if we can help. If you know anyone that can benefit from our services, send them our way. WYS serves from our collective heart. We are deeply connected to the OC community and we’re available. Most of our services are free of charge and trauma-informed care is infused in all of our services and programs. We are one toll-free phone call away: 888.312.0406.

Wishing you and yours wellness,

Lorry Leigh Belhumeur PhD, CEO of Western Youth Services on Blog - Western Youth Services (WYS) Orange County - the hub of mental health care and wellness solutions for kids in Orange County, CA

Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Western Youth Services

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