RED BANK, NJ: As the new school year approaches amid a global pandemic, it is no surprise that many teachers, parents, and children, still reeling from the coronavirus shutdowns, are feeling anxious.

To help start the school year strong, the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is hosting a free virtual seminar, “Healing Self, Families and Communities,” featuring Alisha De Lorenzo, an education and mental health specialist. The program will take place from 1-1:45 p.m., Tuesday, August 11, on ZOOM.

“The Y is here to provide the resources our community needs to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis,” said YMCA President and CEO Laurie Goganzer. “As a youth development partner to more than 90 schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties, we’re pleased to host this important conversation to foster the well-being of children and adults.”

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The Y’s Counseling and Social Services team has been strengthening individuals living with depression, substance abuse, grief, loss, and other issues for over 45 years. When the pandemic hit, the Y began offering telehealth services in addition to in-person support to reach struggling children, teens, and adults, Goganzer said.

The need for mental health support continues to surge due to the pandemic. Nearly half of U.S. adults believe the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Grappling with changes from the coronavirus has been difficult for everyone, said De Lorenzo, a licensed professional counselor. “We’ve all been touched by the pandemic. It’s important to pause and recognize the impact,” she added.

De Lorenzo will discuss the impacts of stress and share tools and techniques for self-care and caring for children in the seminar. “In order to help support the mental health and well-being of children,” De Lorenzo said, “we need to focus on helping parents and educators look inward first.”

Exposure to high levels of chronic stress and trauma can significantly increase rates of physical illnesses, mental, emotional, and behavioral health problems and diminish quality of life, De Lorenzo said. “With the right tools that are always accessible to us, we can begin to prevent, interfere and heal the damage that stress and trauma have on our well-being,” she said.

De Lorenzo is the founder and owner of Living YES, LLC, and serves as interim deputy director of Garden State Equality. She provides education and mental health support services to school districts throughout New Jersey and locally in the Asbury Park, Freehold Township and Holmdel school districts.

She worked in public education for nearly 20 years as a teacher and student assistance counselor and was New Jersey’s first social and emotional learning coordinator. As an educator and mental health clinician, De Lorenzo has developed a blended approach for implementing wellness into classrooms to create “educational equity and address the emotional literacy of all members of the school community.”  

Registration for the seminar, which will include a Q&A session, is available by clicking HERE

Participants are welcome to submit questions for De Lorenzo in advance by sending an e-mail to lwagner@ymcanj.org.

To learn more about the YMCA’s extensive mental health services and programs, visit www.ymcanj.org or connect on social media by following @ymcaGMC.