UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – The pandemic can be hard on many emotionally. The New York State Office of Mental Health has chosen an organization in Oneida County to be a provider of New York Project Hope Crisis Counseling. The Neighborhood Center is offering COVID-19 crisis counseling for those in Oneida County to help them cope with their emotions during these challenging times.

“Through the emotional support helpline that we’re offering we’re hoping to find some of those barriers that people may be facing in order to get back to pre-Covid times,” said Elvisa Alikadic, Oneida County Project Hope Coordinator.

New York Project Hope, which is funded by FEMA, helps the community through resources such as an emotional support helpline, educational materials, and trusted referrals. Crisis counselors help people to manage the emotions that they have been feeling throughout the pandemic. Crisis Counselor Alafia Edmonds tells us that this is a life-changing experience.

“While we’re connecting with people we’re getting to know what the community needs. For example nursing homes, just the employees themselves are overwhelmed with work and stress and just connecting with resources to make sure there’s an opening right now to even talk to someone,” said Edmunds.

The call is free, confidential, and anonymous. To get in contact with a crisis counselor Oneida County residents can call 315-272-6248. Counselors are available any weekday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Elvisa tells us that the program is there to help people with any type of grief they are feeling because everyone has experienced the pandemic in a different way.

“Whether it’s through grief of losing someone or the socialization aspect of things we all experience it in one way or another. Our goal is to focus on the mental health and emotional health of people in order to prevent physical health issues,” said Alikadic.