2018-02-28 / Columns

JFCS’ new ‘Love Your Mind Movement’ will make mental wellness easier

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
MARLA MEYERS
Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

It is often said that how you look is much less important than how you feel, and that makes sense. Regardless of our outward appearance, what’s going on inside our own bodies is what is important. For instance, you could be harboring a sore foot. If someone notices, you may share that you took a tumble in your backyard and twisted your ankle. You may even go on to tell them you are going to the doctor, and received some kind of medicine or exercises to practice at home, and that you are now on a path to healing: All part of a relatively normal conversation you might have with someone about your health.

We generally do not feel awkward about these types of conversation. We just aim to fix what is broken physically, get ourselves the help we need, and go back to life as we know it, and therefore, we don’t mind talking about it. No shame, no stigma, just something you wanted to make better.

Mental illness, however, is often a reality that a person doesn’t wear on a sleeve. An individual can appear “fine” and yet they are struggling to maintain mental wellness. In fact, many hide it behind a smile. Why do so many neighbors and friends feel a need to bury deeply anything regarding mental stress, unease or illness that is bothering them? After all, our minds are part of our bodies, and our brains meet the same requirements for constant care and injury prevention, do they not?

Suddenly, when we are talking about a possible condition concerning our mental state, it is no longer a “normal” conversation— even though our mind has as much to do with our overall health as does pain from an injured bone or joint.

It’s time to end that perception. Historically, the public didn’t quite understand mental illness. And, what was not understood was often feared. We treated others differently if we knew they needed some mental support. We know now that mental wellness is affected by environmental, biological, genetic, and lifestyle factors. Just as our lungs are affected by the air we breathe, our minds are affected by everything we experience around us.

This year, JFCS has rolled out a brand new way of thinking about mental health, and we call it the “Love Your Mind Movement,” where we are encouraging our community to take an active, energized part in their mental health. No stigmas, shame, or judgment. We are getting the word out that seeking out mental health therapy should be just as easy and routine as getting an annual check-up at your primary care doctor. JFCS is committed to advocating that we should all nurture our mental health regularly, to be the best we can be—not only when life has you on the ropes and pain makes it hard to stand.

We are handing the keys over to everyone—whether you are dealing with panic disorder or need some guidance on how to deal with stressful transitional situations on the home front. With new offerings such as hypnotherapy and meditation, we are presenting engaging, interactive, and effective tools that each and every person can use throughout their everyday lives, to allay mental distress before it becomes harder to manage.

In addition to offering a wonderfully relaxing environment, we have also added many more counselors to our team and will soon offer new and innovative support groups. We have revised our service hours for therapy— so that it is even more accessible. There is no longer a wait list for counseling sessions, and the agency accepts Medicaid, Medicare and most private insurance plans. A sliding-fee scale is also available. Our mission is to provide the tools to heal, persevere, and prosper in our world, and to offer a comfortable and rewarding experience in which to do this. We have created an atmosphere in which you can love your mind and not fear it.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, even though most people can be successfully treated for mental health issues, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services and treatment get the help they need. The average delay between the onset of symptoms and getting help is 8- 10 years, mainly due to fear of rejection, bullying or discrimination. We’d like you to know: None of those things have a home at JFCS. We are here to help the whole person, and always have been. Remember that every piece of you is important, and deserves your attention. So, don’t put off taking advantage of our counseling department expansion, flexible scheduling, and new offerings. Be as kind to your mind as you would any part of your body. It’s time to change the tone of the mental wellness conversation to a positive, warm, and understanding one. It should never be any other way.

To schedule an appointment, you can call (856) 424-1333, or you can fill out a “request service e-form” easily on our website, at www.jfcssnj.org/counseling. 

mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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