EAST LONGMEADOW — The Center for Human Development will soon open its new Prospect Center, providing mental health support for local individuals and families, CEO Jim Goodwin announced at the center’s open house on May 17.

The clinic will offer services such as individual and group counseling, telehealth sessions, medication and educational support for children, parents and families in the East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Wilbraham and Hampden area, Goodwin told Reminder Publishing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns such as anxiety rose significantly within student populations, he explained. This was often combined with concerns about studying remotely or returning to school following remote periods. In response, Goodwin was contacted by local superintendents and parents about additional services needed for students.

“It was an opportunity to meet the need and work with schools,” he explained.

The Prospect Center is designed to “provide services that have not been readily available in the area,” Goodwin said, stating that it will function as an extension of other CHD services. He emphasized that the center’s services and schedule could adapt based on need in the communities. Its initial services will include support for a variety of concerns, such as substance use, anxiety and depression. At 37A Prospect St., the clinic is centrally located but also away from main traffic for anyone who may be “reluctant” to visit, he said.

“Young people have had a hard four or five years,” Vice President of Community Engagement Ben Craft said during the open house. He stated that the pandemic hasn’t been the only challenge for students and thanked East Longmeadow town officials, police and Superintendent Gordon Smith for supporting the Prospect Center.

While an opening date has not yet been set for the center, it will likely be within the next few weeks, Goodwin said. He explained that the center is waiting for its final approval from the state.

The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with certain days having evening hours until 8 p.m., Southern Region Senior Program Director Katelyn Prendergast stated. Additionally, the center will have Saturday hours and specified walk-in hours during the week. Walk-in hours at other outpatient centers in the region are currently 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday, she said.

Prendergast, who will be overseeing the Prospect Center, told Reminder Publishing that the center will offer services for elementary and high school students with all clinicians having licenses to work in both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

She explained that services will be offered with a sliding cost scale based on the patient’s income and family size, which can help reduce costs such as copays. Similarly, CHD will assign a case manager to any patients who do not have insurance.

“Everyone deserves help,” emphasized Shayna Cole, a licensed independent clinical social worker who will be working at the Prospect Center. She highlighted that people will sometimes not seek help because they feel others are in greater need or more deserving of the services. However, individual concerns can appear differently in different people, she said.

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