Cleveland County Y Launches Behavioral Health Services

picture of words spelling out Mental Health Matters

Thanks to grant funding, the Cleveland County Family YMCA is now offering behavioral health to children, adolescents and adults in the community. While some Ys around the country offer such services, the Y in Cleveland County is the first in North Carolina to provide these services, and it’s needed now more than ever.  The mental health data for youth alone is staggering. 

“We are focusing on awareness and accessibility,” said Dr. Karen Williams, Director of Behavioral Health at the Y. “If we provide someone with a resource they need, that’s a win. We’re working to normalize some of the conditions and experiences, and to assure individuals that they are not alone.  We are here to start the conversation, help them and provide hope.”

Dr. Williams joined the Y in in May 2022 and has been working to establish credentials for the program to enable her to provide services at each of the Y’s branches, as well as in the community at local churches and schools. The Y has contracted with Partners Behavioral Health Management and Vaya  Health, and can receive payments through five Medicaid insurers, and accepts private pay insurance as well. 

Navigating the state regulations has been arduous, but Dr. Williams is now seeing patients. In addition to seeing patients in person and virtually, Dr. Williams will be offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for adults for North Carolina Y staff on a quarterly basis. The course is $50 and includes individual prework online as well as a 5.5-hour in-person session held online. She is seeking to get certified to teach Teen Mental Health First Aid as well. 

The Y plans for its behavior health program to sustain itself after the grant funds are depleted by being able to accept third-party payments and offering services such as the MHFA training. “Mental health is a huge issue for youth and adults in our community. We hope that by offering behavioral health support we can meet the significant need, and also make that whole mind and body connection for wellness,” said Cam Corder, CEO of the Y. 

Dr. Karen Williams, is a veteran, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor, Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and Certified Employee Assistance Professional.  Her treatment modalities blend conventional and holistic perspectives, tools and interventions that are designed to meet the person “where they are” while facilitating their movement towards self-awareness, self-approval and self-acceptance.