Rabbi Shraga Freedman
Rabbi Yisroel Engel
Mrs. Terri Indich
Rabbi Aver Jacobs
Rabbi Asher Klein
Mrs. Ruthie Krausz
Rabbi Raphael Leban
Rabbi Yaakov Meyer
Dr. Neil and Mrs. Vicki Olesky
Rabbi Zev Pomerantz
Rabbi Tzvi Steinberg
Mrs. Esther Feldheim
Rabbi Tzvi Mordechai Feldheim
Mrs. Peggy Kasloff
Mrs. Esther Melamed
Mental Health Advisory
Dr. Nancy Gary
Rabbi Yitzchok Goldstein
Dr. Helen Horowitz
Dr. Barbara Unger
Rabbi Shraga Freedman, Administrator
The need: The healthy family unit, the fiber of every community, is eroding. The percentage of families with single or multiple “weak points” is increasing. It is unfortunate that in many cases some will remain simply unaware of the deterioration of the family structure, and/or they will be reluctant or unsure of how to respond.
In many cases early intervention will save the individual, the family, even the community, from expenditure of funds, time, and emotional energies. Nevertheless, it is the reality that many will not respond until an issue has been allowed to progress beyond the point of prevention to risk and even to crisis.
The problem: There are multiple reasons why there may be reluctance to confront those issues that may place the well being of their families at risk: ignorance; stigma; unawareness of available resources; a lack of skills to confront the problem; being generally overwhelmed – “over their head” with multiple issues.
Background: Mental health is an elusive term. Many individuals demonstrate behavior which is clearly a mental health issue. This would include bi-polar, clinical depression, and psychotic episodes, to name a few. The community has long considered those individuals as the exceptions. Other than these extreme diagnoses, many will consider the more common issues to be nothing more than “problems that will go away by themselves”.
Community leaders and mental health professionals believe differently. Many forms of behavior, interpreted by parents and neighbors as being nothing more than a discipline issue, are in fact far more serious. As an example, narcissistic behavior, once ingrained, cannot be made to “go away” by simply responding with friendship.
It is worrisome how the growing list of negative behaviors, which begin as behavioral issues, are allowed to continue unchecked and to develop into mental health issues. Acute lack of self-worth can lead to eating disorders, self-mutilation and suicide. The effects of sexual abuse have in too many instances left in its wake a generation of individuals with mental anguish and instability. The list goes on.
The goal: The formation of a group of dedicated and talented people who represent the community, the mental health field, the referral industry, and educators to advise and implement solutions.
Creating the system: Task force members are hand-picked by expertise, according to their ability to connect with a client and to synergize with each other. The selection process must ensure that each neighborhood, school, and therefore family is represented. We must guarantee that no one is left behind.
ATiD Mission Statement
To create a structure within our community, that will address the mental health needs of the individual and family through early detection and response in a proactive, friendly, and professional manner.
To minimize symptomatic effects of an issue, and provide necessary services to address the issue.
To ensure that anyone in need will have sufficient support, emotional and logistical, to arrive at a sensible and simple solution.
The Taskforce is designed to “be everywhere”. The structure attempts to ensure that an issue, whether at-risk or in-crises, whether manifested at home, school or synagogue, is noticed and brought to the attention of the Taskforce.
A 14 year-old boy, until now well-behaved, has an older brother who is “non-mainstream.” Parents are considered “interesting.” They do not have real friends within the community. The boy has become increasingly quiet and withdrawn, and shies away from friends and teachers.
The teacher is concerned with the possibility of depression or family conflict.
The teacher contacts the Taskforce administrator.
The administrator, in conference with the Director and/or a Taskforce mental health professional, assesses and makes a determination whether the behavior requires a psychological evaluation and professional intervention, or whether other resources can be employed.
The administrator assigns a case number and chooses a group of specific members of the taskforce to address the case.
The group discusses the most effective approach to the parents. Who within the extended family can be approached? What external support exists (Rabbi, mentor etc.)?
What other, perhaps more aggressive, interventions should be employed?
In the case when the boy will see a therapist, the Taskforce should attempt to obtain a release. This will facilitate their ability to continue to help the child and family through the necessary stages.
Ongoing follow up! In many cases, families will require years of therapy, medication, and school and other placements. Without follow up, parents may downplay the progress and importance of the effort and months later the taskforce members will find themselves in the exact position from which they started.
Communication within the Taskforce: The Administrator will organize weekly phone-meetings open to all members of the Taskforce for discussion and sharing of ideas and possible solutions. While maintaining confidentiality by using only case numbers, progress reports will be disseminated. In addition, bi-weekly newsletters with relevant articles and resource information will be distributed to the general public through email and placed in strategic locations throughout the city.
In conclusion: The resources already exist in our community. Nevertheless, many families aren’t receiving the services that they require and desire. The taskforce’s commitment is to make those services available, and to motivate the parents to begin, continue, and complete the steps necessary to give their children, as healthy members of a healthy family, their best chance at succeeding in life.
Rabbi Shraga Freedman, Administrator