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May is National Mental Health Month

On May 14, a day-long program offers help for children stressed by the pandemic 

To mark National Mental Health Month, Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford (JFS) and Tara’s Closet will present “A Virtual Day with JFS” on Thursday, May 14. 

Dr. Evan Fox

The day-long program will feature, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., FOX61 reporter Rachel Lutzker and her children reading Heather Malley’s book Not Forever But For Now: A story for children about feelings during the pandemic. Following story-time, professional counselor Emily Sachs will offer tips for talking to children about the pandemic and for helping them process their feelings as we practice social distancing. In the evening from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Dr. Evan Fox of the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital/HH, will moderate “A Conversation about Coping With COVID-19,” where he will be joined by Sophie Riegel, author of Don’t Tell Me To Relax: One Teen’s Journey to Survive Anxiety will offer “Strategies for Quaranteenagers.”

“Now more than ever we need to increase mental health awareness,” says Barbara Roth, who founded Tara’s Closet to honor the memory of her daughter, Tara Savin, who lost her life to bi-polar disorder. 

“Before the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing, we already had a mental health crisis with people suffering from anxiety, depression, isolation, and loneliness,” she says, noting that one out of every five people experience mental illness each year. Our goal is to break the stigma of mental illness because people are very much afraid to talk about it. It is crucial to openly discuss and normalize the conversation so people are not afraid to ask for help especially during these challenging times.”

To join the event, ZOOM LINK: jfshartford.org/zoom.

‘Collective Compassion’ focuses on Jewish teens with month of programs

To mark National Mental Health Awareness Month, Jewish Teens Thrive, a project of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, has launched “Collective Compassion,” a national response to the growing wellness needs of teens. This month, Collective Compassion features dozens of events and experiences, many in partnership with artists and organizations, that draw on the power of Jewish creativity, culture, learning and values to support teens – as well as the adults that care about them.

“Adolescence is a turbulent time, and COVID-19 is leaving many teens and their families reeling by creating a heightened sense of uncertainty, confusion and loss,” says Sara Allen, executive director of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative. “We aim to both call attention to these challenges and offer teens and adults new self-care practices they can use all year long, and a deeper understanding of the many dimensions of mental health.”  

Collective Compassion is free and accessible to anyone. Highlights include: 

Creativity for Coping, a resilience-building workshop series led by Jewish artists including ‘Storytelling for Sanity,’ an intimate concert and open mic with musicians, movement exercises, and guidance on inventing new rituals to mark loss.

Finding Purpose & Meaning with toolkits for Mental Health Shabbats, integrating gratitude into daily lives and philanthropy pop-ups for teens to support local wellness organizations.

Education & Awareness with screenside chats and live Q&As with mental health ex-perts and advocates, parent-focused discussions, and training sessions with youth professionals.

Curated books and quarantine playlists.

Collective Compassion is supported by BBYO, The Blue Dove Foundation, Jewish Teen Funders Network, Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Professionals’ Net-work, Here Now, the URJ, the Mitsui Collective, Moving Traditions, and the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit.

Says Allen,“In this moment we turn to each other and our Jewish tradition with the be-lief that unity is strength. We are inspired by the ‘Collective Compassion’ of our community as we come together to raise awareness, build resilience and ultimately thrive.”

For more information, visit www.collectivecompassion2020.com. 

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