YMCA partners with URMC to support mental health of young children

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A partnership that was years in the making has finally come together for both the YMCA and the University of Rochester Medical Center. Both have come together to train, and support the mental health of young children, and teenagers while at summer camp.

This program between the “Y,” and URMC exists because some of the children that attend summer camp are still being affected by the stress they’ve experienced during the pandemic.

“Mental health concerns among our teens and kids are really on the rise,” said Dr. Allison Stiles, Faculty Psychologist at URMC. She continued, “This has been the case for some time, but it’s been increasing since Covid-19.”

Before summer camp started at all Rochester area YMCA’s, their staff members underwent training sessions to get both techniques, and resources from mental health doctors at URMC. Terrence McElduff says this special training comes in handy when dealing with managing children’s behaviors.

“We were able to a de-escalation training. We were able to do community resource training, and also a mental health first aid course for youth. So that was huge heading into our season,” said McElduff.

As the Executive Director of both Before and After school Programs, he says staff members also took part in what’s called “Problems of Practice Consultation Piece.” McElduff says this weekly consultation with the doctors involved working on live current events happening at their camps, and some of the behaviors they’re seeing from the children.

“To have that phone call, or that Zoom call that opportunity to talk to someone to get on the spot advice I think that’s huge. The “Y” leadership team tries to provide that advice daily, and things with our teams, but it’s nice to have an outside perspective,” said McElduff.

Dr. Stiles says this sort of training is more for the general public.

“This is really for you know coaches, and teachers, parents, bus drivers, and you know in the case of the “Y” this is for the counselors, the leadership staff, program directors to really understand how to you know recognize those youths that might be in need, and figure out how to support them,” said Stiles.

McElduff tell us what some parents are saying about the partnership.

“I think parents are excited to hear that we’re doing it differently. You know, and we are seeking new opportunities, and new experts, and partnerships in order to help us,” said McElduff.

According to the “Y,” this partnership and training doesn’t end when summer ends. It will continue to support the YMCA’s various before and after school programs.