South Orange woman serves as new mental health director for the Y

Laura McCann

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges has named Laura McCann, of South Orange, as the organization’s new mental health director. In this role, she works to raise awareness of mental health issues and expand mental health resources available to staff, members and the public; she began Aug. 1. 

“I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this endeavor at the Y, an organization that’s already trusted and well embedded within the community,” McCann said. “There is a huge need for mental health care in New Jersey, and I look forward to enhancing the services the Y is currently providing and creating an environment where talking about mental health is not only important, but is also normalized.”

McCann has over a decade of experience as a social worker in hospitals and health care settings, and most recently served as the manager of social determinants of health for Hackensack Meridian Health. In that role, she led a team of community health workers responsible for connecting patients to social and community resources, and provided clinical oversight of adult patients and their families who required mental health service connection.

She has a Master of Social Work with a concentration in clinical health from the Catholic University of America and received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, where she studied environmental science and policy.

She and her family are also members of the South Mountain YMCA, where her 6-year-old daughter, Elise, plays basketball and attends Creative Theater Summer Camp.

In her role as mental health director, McCann will first focus on ways to support Y staff through awareness of employee assistance resources, education, and training on how to recognize when a person is struggling or dealing with a stressful or traumatic event, and how to respond. McCann will also look for ways the Y can fill gaps and eliminate barriers to accessing mental health support and services.

“We’re excited to have Laura join the Y in this new role. She brings a vast knowledge of social services that will allow us to serve the community in an entirely new way. She will be leading our efforts, forming strong partnerships to support this work, and increasing access to mental health resources,” said Brian Sheafer, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, and a co-chairperson of the Mental Health Task Force.

Hiring a mental health director has been a priority for the Metro Y’s Mental Health Task Force, which formed in 2021.

“The Y plays an important role in advancing the conversation around mental health in our communities. By supporting both physical and mental well-being, we can help individuals live healthier (lives) and reach their full potential,” said Richard K. Gorab, president and CEO of the Metro YMCA of the Oranges. “Laura’s background, expertise and enthusiasm will enable us to carry out our mission in new and impactful ways and serve more people in need.”