Making Connections
Your Monthly Update on Our Work and Impact
From Gail's Desk
October 31, 2022
Greetings!

Recently, another headline about a distressing mental health study crossed my desk. This time, researchers found that 90% of US adults say that the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis, many describing their own mental health as only "fair" or "poor."

It’s easy to feel almost numb to this story because we have all heard these shocking statistics about the mental health and wellbeing of our society over and over again. But we need to keep paying attention, because there’s so much that we are doing and can do to address this urgent need.

You’ll read below about the innovations in mental health care that JF&CS is leading – for new parents, suicide loss survivors, clients with serious, persistent mental illness, and anyone in need of help and support.

Behind the daunting numbers are the individual stories of real people whose lives we are changing. It’s these stories that inspire me every day.  
Gail Schulman
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. We’re hiring! Learn more about our many fulfilling job openings, from mental health case manager to support group facilitator and much more at jfcsboston.org/careers
Rob's story: Reaching out for help after suicide loss
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Mental Health Connect is our free, confidential help line. A JF&CS mental health professional will take the time to understand your situation and connect you with expert advice and appropriate resources. Every day, an average of five people call us for help with mental health issues. Here’s one story:

Rob* called Mental Health Connect after his adult son died by suicide. He was struggling emotionally with his grief and with facing the stigma that often comes with suicide loss. And Rob was now struggling with his basic needs, as his son was a vital support with everything from driving Rob to the grocery store to helping him with financial matters.

We connected him with one-on-one grief counseling at JF&CS and enrolled him in our Suicide Loss Survivor support group. We also referred Rob to JF&CS’s Your Elder Experts service and are now providing him with one-on-one aging life care management. His care manager is connecting him with mental health and medical providers, tax assistance, help to access transportation and other local resources that will enable him to live more independently.
Looking for a therapist? We can help
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Thanks to a new partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the William James College INTERFACE Referral Service, we are now able to match callers to Mental Health Connect with outpatient mental health providers serving all age ranges and offering a variety of mental healthcare services. Get in touch with Mental Health Connect with the button below.
The Holiday Gift Card Drive returns to spread joy
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After months of rising inflation, many parents will struggle to afford presents for their children as the holiday season approaches – stress that can impact the mental wellbeing of the whole family. The JF&CS Holiday Gift Card Drive brings joy to low-income families by empowering parents to pick out the gifts they know their children will love. With your support, JF&CS will provide gift cards for more than 500 children this year. Here’s how you can help:

Donate online and we’ll buy the gift cards. Please give in increments of $50 (or any amount you can afford)

OR

Mail us Target gift cards in $50 increments. Please send to:
Kathy Arnold
Jewish Family & Children’s Service
1430 Main Street
Waltham, MA 02451

The last day to donate is Friday, November 18th. Thank you for helping families in our community provide their children holiday joy and happy memories.
A special Yizkor moment
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JF&CS is dedicated to offering a Jewish response to suicide loss, remembering those who have died and supporting those who live with this unique loss. During the High Holy Days this September, we gathered nearly 100 people virtually for a special Yizkor moment – a gentle remembrance of those who have died by suicide. Rabbi Suzanne Offit and Marjie Sokoll, Director of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing at JF&CS, led the service, blending Jewish prayers and poetry, as well as stories from family members who personally experienced suicide loss. If you or someone you know has experienced suicide loss, please reach to learn more about our Suicide Loss Survivor support group.

“In our shared moment this evening of ritualized remembering, I encourage all of us to try to remember with strength and awe, the beauty and blessings of your loved one’s life. Can we focus on the way they lived and not only on the way they died? Sometimes that is so hard. But we are not alone.” -- Rabbi Suzanne Offit
Connection and support for children with siblings with a disability
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Children who have siblings with disabilities often face life-long and complex emotional challenges. Sibshops, our recreational group for these children and teens, enables sharing of experiences in a supportive and non-judgmental environment, with other siblings who understand. We’ve had a wonderful start to the groups this year, going apple picking and a night out with bowling and pizza.
“Sibshops gives my child their own space to be with other kids who “get it” – they can have fun, laugh and find joy with friends who support and validate their feelings. It gives them a chance to just be a happy kid, and it gives us parents a much-needed break as well.” -- Parent of a Sibshops participant
Tackling persistent mental health challenges
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Supports for people with persistent mental illness are scarce—often leaving people alone, scared, and on the verge of hospitalization, homelessness, or other imminent risks. JF&CS’s clinical case management offers unique assistance for those living with mental illness, supporting them to address their unique challenges and pursue their goals.
 
For example, Valeria*, a 61-year-old woman, has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities. She was also a victim of domestic violence. English is a second language for Valeria, who reads at a 3rd-grade level. While struggling to manage her mental health symptoms and trauma, she found herself also struggling financially - accumulating thousands of dollars of credit card debt and falling behind on her rent and utility bills.

Valeria’s JF&CS case manager worked to provide her with rental assistance from JF&CS, and with shutoff protections from National Grid and Eversource. Valeria often looked to her case manager to make decisions, but they worked on returning the power and ownership to Valeria. Her case manager has noticed her confidence improving – she is completing many tasks independently now and trusts herself - knowing she has the support of her case manager as needed.
Support when you need it most: from a client to a donor
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Parenting a baby is always a tender time. Angela Borges, who received support from a Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Mom after she gave birth, was so inspired by the work the program does that she became a donor herself to pay it forward. Check out Angela’s story and learn more about how you can support the services you care about.
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