Battling the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Battling the stigma of mental illness

Stigma — one of the more difficult aspects of mental illness that patients and their families encounter again and again — is the subject that took center stage at the annual seminar held by the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division’s Family Counseling Center, together with Israel’s Health Department.

The well-known authority in the field, Professor Avraham Weizman, head of the Mental Health Center research unit at Geheh and director of the Flossenstein Center for Medical Research at Tel Aviv University is deeply involved with people in this sector and is in constant contact with Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion International Chairman. Prof. Weizman discussed the effects of stigma in the overall protocol when dealing with mental health patients. The statistical data and studies he presented were intended to refute many of the common stigmas regarding people with mental illness.

Chananya Chollak spoke about the damage that concealment causes by preventing people from obtaining the appropriate treatment in time. He called upon the public to display responsibility and get help as soon as possible, so as to increase the chances of optimistically resuming life routine. How many times have professional staff members cried to him, saying, “If only he had come to be treated earlier! The prognosis would have been so much better.”

Prominent community leader, Rabbi Moshe Stein, a dayan on Rav Wosner’s beis din, discussed the halachic (Jewish Law) issues relating to mental health. He emphasized that it is important to present the true story to the Rabbis who will be discreet in advising when and how much should be revealed and to whom.

Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Brak, greeted the seminar attendees and lauded the tremendous contribution of Ezer Mizion in general, and particularly their Mental Health Division, to the Jewish people. Ezer Mizion offers a variety of psychological support services and rehabilitative programs for people suffering from psychological disorders, emotional issues and mental illnesses. These services include:

A Big Brother/Sister Program that pairs individuals suffering from mental illnesses with trained mentors who provide companionship, offer assistance with basic daily function, and teach the skills necessary for independent living.

Rehabilitative employment centers that provide mentally handicapped people with basic vocational training and employment, and ease their integration into free market employment.

A psychological referral team that recommends appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors to people grappling with emotional disturbances, mental health issues or difficult relationships.

A network of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout Israel who provide their services at a discount to patients referred by Ezer Mizion.

A 24-hour crisis hotline for non-medical emergencies, including mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.

As the seminar closed, the hundreds of participants expressed great satisfaction at having received so much knowledge and empowerment in the subject of mental health as a whole, and specifically in the area of stigmas. Attendees hope to have more similar lectures which will gradually affect public opinion and look forward to a time when mental illness will present no more of a stigma than any medical condition.

Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.

 

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In Lieu of Mommy

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Ezer Mizion

Yona is the wife of a schizophrenia patient. Life hasn’t been easy for her. Dealing with mental illness is a frightening nightmare only made worse by the loneliness. Mental illness is not something you share with the neighbors. On the outside, she is a bubbly mother of a large family, discussing the woes of a washing machine breakdown with another mother as they sit on the park bench together. On the inside, however, she is slowly falling apart because of a different type of breakdown –   the breakdown of a strong, supportive husband, the breakdown of a family. Yona is a heroine, trying to go it alone but she worries how long she can go on. When will she herself break down?

Bravely, she had made her way to the Ezer Mizion office. Maybe.  Maybe they can help a bit. What she received was so much more than she had hoped for. Continue reading In Lieu of Mommy

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Moving Forward

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Mental illness can be cured.

Mental illness, as the name implies, is an illness. And, again, as the name implies, it can be cured. But, unlike strep throat, a mental health patient harbors fears of facing the cure and rejoining the world. His rehabilitation can be greatly delayed due to his inability to take those frightening steps. Continue reading Moving Forward

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How Do You Do It?

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Mental illness

Vacation. Just the word alone conjures up feelings of anticipation, happiness and relaxation of tension. Many studies have shown the value of a vacation even for those leading successful, fulfilling lives. And for those that are not?  Those that are battling the unimaginable challenges of mental health?

They experience a general feeling of well-being, increased self-esteem and a strong development of social bonds after taking part in the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division Annual Retreat which gives them the positive energy to fight their battles in the months ahead. Continue reading How Do You Do It?

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Traumatized!

helping hand in darkDid you ever feel so overwhelmed that it was impossible to take one step forward on your own? Most families do not experience such trauma in their lives but some do.  They’re people just like us – the man who sits in the next row in your shul, the woman you were conversing with on that long supermarket line – regular people until suddenly their world caves in and nothing is the same. It is then that, without someone to hold their hand, they and their family will collapse from the unbearable anguish. Continue reading Traumatized!

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A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

pr fileI had to write to express how deeply impressed I was by the “Heroes’ Retreat” that Ezer Mizion ran for people struggling with mental illness. Thank you to the organization and dedicated workers for their tremendous efforts and attention to every detail, all in the goal of bringing joy to the emotionally ill and providing them with positive experiences, so as to give them faith in their ability to cope successfully with their challenges.

I heard this from many relatives of mentally ill individuals who took part in the retreat, but it is hard to describe what I saw with my own eyes. Unfortunately, we are going through a very difficult time with our son. For the past three years, he has barely stepped out of the house, and he refused to go to this retreat, too. Continue reading A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

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Uncalled for Anxiety

Letters to the Editor – Inyan Tziburi

Anxiety from Yamim Noraim

Oct. 20, 2014

 

Dear Public Interest section:

It is a few days before Rosh Hashanah, and I have finally decided to take paper and pen and write – write to everyone who, like me, is overwhelmed by anxiety. pr anxietyNot fear of the Divine Judgment, but fear of the harsh future that will be decreed upon me for the next year, G-d forbid. I tremble in fear from the red mark on the highways, and am terrified that I or someone in my family has been marked for tragedy. I wait with inner impatience for the Yamim Noraim – and they are really terrible days for me – to be over, and for the gleeful days of Sukkot to come and with their joy, silence the storm raging within my heart.

Another year passes, and yet another, and for me, as early as the sunny month of Tamuz, Elul with all its fears, anxieties and nerves, begins to darken my state of mind. I become an edgy, moody mother, wracked by guilt feelings. Continue reading Uncalled for Anxiety

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Mental Rehabilitation in a Framework Appropriate for a Yeshiva Student

Hamevaser
Aug. 1, 2014

A new Ezer Mizion program enables mentally ill, young, religious men to rehabilitate in a sheltered environment  without giving up on their values.Brown Satin Kippah
The Cohen family experienced a saga of worry, distress, and deep challenge when their son Moshe, an 18-year-old yeshiva boy, went through a mental crisis. Continue reading Mental Rehabilitation in a Framework Appropriate for a Yeshiva Student

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