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Someone to talk to about your COVID-19 fears

TORRINGTON — You might have seen a post on social media from the McCall Center for Behavioral health in Torrington announcing a new program, COVID-19 Assistance for Community Health (COACH).

And if you call the number given (860-626-9805), you’ll speak to Manny Barreto, a crisis counselor.

The COACH program helps people recognize COVID-related stress and manage the emotional toll of the pandemic. 

Barreto picked up the phone on Friday, July 24, and provided a rundown of the services the program offers.

He said the main focus is on assessments and interventions, providing information and referrals to people who are in crisis because of the pandemic, and just taking the time to listen.

“Many people don’t understand how COVID-19 affects them,” he said, even if they don’t have the coronavirus.

Seniors in particular are suffering from isolation from family and friends, deaths among family and friends, and from practical difficulties, such as getting to and from appointments, Barreto said.

McCall director Maria Coutant-Skinner said Monday, July 27, that originally the program, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, started out with the goal of addressing the pandemic’s impact on nursing home residents and staffers.

Now it has expanded to “anybody in his path,” she said, speaking of Barreto.

Barreto said he’s been getting between 100 to 150 calls per week in the last two weeks, as word of the COACH program spreads.

He said many people just need someone to talk to.

“It’s important they know we can keep the discussion going, and for me to tell them there are resources and people available to help.”

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