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YMCA facilities get cash for wellness initiatives

Nearly $2 million in federal funding will bring mental health and substance abuse resources to a YMCA near you.

DUNMORE, Pa. — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, (D) Lackawanna County, joined by leaders from area YMCAs, announced $1.85 million in federal funding for a Wellbeing Initiative.

The money will help to provide mental health education and support services at YMCAs in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, and Pike Counties.

"Northeastern Pennsylvania deserves a place where people can come and not worry about how much it's going to cost them — get some help, not worry about stigma. Nobody's going to think less of you for seeking help," said Rep. Cartwright.

"Dealing with people on a daily basis, we learn and hear about their struggles all the time. And we've really seen the children, especially struggling, so getting this funding is huge," said Trish Fisher, president of the Greater Scranton YMCA.

The program is designed to help people of all ages with a more holistic approach to help people express their feelings in a comfortable way.

"Things like music therapy, art therapy, sound therapy, additional meditation, mindfulness, even pet therapy, different things that kind of get people interested and will pull them in and see different ways that they can effectively work on their mental health and wellness," said program director Kevin Whelley.

The northeast region of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will provide mental health and substance abuse professionals for this program in each of our area YMCAs.

"We know mental health and physical health are interconnected. It's very difficult to have one without the other, and this gives our community an opportunity to address both," said NAMI Northeast Region executive director Marie Onukiavage.

"This is kind of a stepping stone to help people maybe learn some skills on their own, or you know, with the help of our specialized instructors on how to deal with the things they're struggling with," said Fisher.

Some portions of the Wellness Initiative are already underway. The YMCA hopes to have all the programs rolled out in a few weeks.

Check out WNEP's YouTube channel.  

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