Counseling & Mental Health
Over the past three decades, Leah Marcus, Director of Youth Mental Health Services at Jewish Family Service (JFS), has lost ten high school classmates to suicide or overdose. These tragic deaths underscore a disturbing reality that is increasing dramatically in the United States: death by suicide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, 49,500 people took their own lives—the highest number the CDC has recorded.
Excellent health, including mental wellness, is perhaps the most important asset a person can have. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that nearly 53 million Americans live with a mental illness. The good news is that community organizations and NGOs are stepping up to help those in need.
May is here, and Cincinnati is green again. It is a time for blossoms, proms, graduations and gowns. But May is also National Mental Health Month—making it a great time to get familiar with the rich mental health resources available to our community. Jewish Family Service (JFS) believes that mental health and physical health are equally important aspects to a person’s well-being.
In January of this year, Jewish Family Service Youth Mental Health (YMH) program quadrupled in size when Director Leah Marcus brought on three talented social workers to join her efforts: Amanda Cramer, Nina Pridonoff, and Kasey Rosswurm. “Kasey, Nina, and Amanda are such a fantastic team,” Marcus said. “They are very energetic and have worked together so well. I couldn't pick a better group of people to do this critical work.”
From modern-day stressors, like social media, 24/7 texting, and constant location tracking—to more traditional ones, like homework, family turmoil, and bullying—today’s youth are living with a volatile mixture of societal pressures. And though the human psyche is equipped to handle enormous stress, when these pressures are intense, incessant, or novel (think coronavirus), they can increase one’s risk for mental health disorders.
“It was one of my worst times,” says Gloria (identities changed for privacy). The interview takes place in the dining room of her small, freestanding home. There are signs of love all around—lots of green plants in the windows—but dust piles on the flat surfaces, and the curtains are faded. We are talking about when she finally fought free from addiction to pain medicine. (This interview occurred pre-COVID-19; at the end we share how Gloria is faring during the pandemic.)
“With the decision to move to working from home, we only had a short amount of time to change how we deliver counseling services,” said Leslie Brody in regards to Jewish Family Service’s COVID-19 response. “Overnight we had to pivot to phone counseling with most clients, and audio/visual telemedicine for those clients who had access to the technology.”
Brody is the Director of Care Management and Counseling & Crisis Intervention at JFS.
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...