Cincinnati, OH: A new women’s group, designed to empower women and their families who experience mental health issues, held their kick-off event on Tuesday, July 9th at the home of Arna Poupko Fisher.
Chaya Spetner, of Cincinnati, created Tikvaseinu (which means “hopeful”) to provide a forum for women in the Cincinnati Jewish Community to discuss mental health and how it affects them and their loved ones. The goal for this first event was to learn about and explore mental health awareness with guest speaker from Chicago, Rachel Zimmerman, LPCP. This opening program was generously sponsored by Congregation Zichron Elizer, Golf Manor Synagogue, Shaarei Torah and Cincinnati Mikveh.
Over 70 women came together to hear Zimmerman speak about the mental health crisis in America, and discover ways to find your path to happiness while figuring out how to stop destructive comparisons and remove the “shame” that goes along with mental illness.
After a small presentation from Spetner and an introduction from Liz Vogel, CEO of Jewish Family Service, Zimmerman opened with a story about how she noticed that people rally around those going through physical illnesses, but tend to shy away from those suffering from mental illness. “Everyone here is personally affected, whether it’s their own struggle with mental health, or whether it’s a family member, a parent, a spouse, a loved one, a best friend,” said Zimmerman. And despite how common it is, there is still a stigma attached to having mental health issues.
Zimmerman believes strongly that there is no such thing as “normal”; everyone is on a journey and has their own baseline that will be different than anyone else’s. She urges self-compassion (it’s ok to not be ok sometimes) and to surround yourself with a supportive network that you feel safe and comfortable talking with about what you are going through. Most importantly, “drop the struggle and accept where you are, not where you thought you were going to be,” and don’t forget to give support to those who are struggling (and their loved ones as well).
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional," Zimmerman said. She encourages women to not be afraid of going to therapy, or taking medications if that will help. “I don’t see anyone hesitate when it comes to strep throat, to cellulitis- even to cancer,” she says. “Don’t fall into the mind-game that taking medication means something about you as a person, your value, or your worth. This is just not true.”
Women left feeling empowered and excited to a part of this inspiring new group. The night closed with the attendees given an opportunity to voice what they felt was necessary to support women in regards to mental health; survey forms were completed and results will be addressed by the appropriate agencies.
"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Tikvaseinu is excited to do many great things for the community,” shared Spetner. To RSVP for the July 22nd, August 5th and/or August 7th events, please email Tikvasenu@gmail.com.
Tikvaseinu is a non-profit organization, and is affiliated with Jewish Family Service of Cincinnati and is connected with RELIEF (a mental health resource referral organization).