The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were far-reaching. For many in the Wyandotte County community, they lost more than just a sense of normalcy. They lost family members, friends, jobs and a feeling of stability.
“It was similar to what you might see after a hurricane or tornado,” says Paula Wright, Manager of Crisis & Access. “In some ways, I feel like we are playing catch up because this was brand new and looked very different than other disaster relief efforts.”
Wyandot Center secured grant funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide free counseling and support to any Wyandotte County resident who had been affected by COVID-19 in any way. Since the program began in January 2021, the team has provided dozens of one-on-one counseling sessions and has served hundreds of other individuals by providing resource packets with information on supports available to those affected by the pandemic.
Individuals who sought one-on-one counseling were able to meet with a Wyandot Center clinician who taught coping skills to help individuals manage what they were experiencing. For individuals needing continued support, they could transition to outpatient services at Wyandot Center.
“It was similar to what you might see after a hurricane or tornado. In some ways, I feel like we are playing catch up because this was brand new and looked very different than other disaster relief efforts.”
Wright says people came to counseling sessions with a variety of concerns – including grieving the loss of family members and worrying about finding work. As certain pandemic restrictions ease, Wright says they are seeing a shift toward a new concern.
“The change now is more toward anxiety about what comes next and what if this whole thing isn’t really over,” says Wright. “The virus has let up some, but it doesn’t change the fact that everyone was affected by the pandemic.”
While the program serves anyone who needs extra support in light of the pandemic, Wright says she has been particularly pleased with how this program has been embraced by the Unified Government Public Health Department.
“There were a lot of Health Department employees who needed this type of support because of everything they’ve experienced during the pandemic,” says Wright. “The program has been very popular with full-time and temporary employees since we started.”
As life begins to return to some semblance of normalcy, Wright says the team just wants to make sure people know that help is available.
If you or someone you know has been affected by COVID-19 and needs support, free crisis counseling is still available by calling 913-563-6514 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.