Like many mental health providers during the pandemic, the Hudson Valley’s Family Services has converted to providing therapy sessions mostly through Telehealth.
Vice President for Behavioral Health Robin Peritz explains that this transition has generally benefitted their clients, who are able to have more flexibility in setting up their sessions.
“We have had very positive feedback from our clients and from our staff about being able to connect with our clients,” she said.
“I think that the ease of Telehealth has probably overall increased people’s interest and ability to attend sessions,” she went on to say. “Previously, you had to schedule it, you had to either drive or have transportation to get to a center, check in, wait in a waiting room to get seen and figure out how you’re getting back.”
Another perk of Telehealth has been clients not missing as many appointments, which according to Peritz was an ongoing issue before.
“Somebody who may have missed an appointment at 10 o’clock, we can call them or they call us and say, ‘Hey, I’m really sorry, I missed my 10 o’clock,'” she said. “We then can say, ‘Hey, I happen to have an opening at one,’ and they can do it via phone call. I think that we’ve had fewer no shows because they were easily recaptured.”
Since it was founded in 1879, Family Services has worked to provide a variety of supports to vulnerable communities across the Hudson Valley.
The organization has served these communities during other difficult periods in history, including the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression and the racial unrest of the 1960s. So it’s clear that this organization was up for the challenge of providing therapeutic and other services during another harrowing period in this country’s history.
While the nation has had to undergo such darkness, Peritz has seen a greater sense of optimism among the families who are currently in therapy through Family Services.
“People are feeling a little bit freer in the world,” she said, “so I think that if people are able to start doing some of the normal things like going out to restaurants. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all safe, while we’re vaccinating as a nation, it’s a long way to go. But I do think that people will feel much more hopeful as things open up.”
She also has noticed a greater openness in the way people discuss mental health in this country, which was a trend she saw even before the pandemic.
“Over the years, in general, there’s much less taboo and much less shame behind [mental illness],” she said. “I think more people are open about it. Celebrities and the media are talking more about depression, bipolar disorder, and families are becoming more open about loved ones having mental illness.”
For more information on Family Services, visit https://familyservicesny.org/program-areas/behavioral-health-centers