COURAGE comes before COMPETENCE and CONFIDENCE
I am on a mission to reduce suffering in our community due to mental health issues. From my time as a teacher and guidance counsellor in Toronto’s Jewish day school system and as a board member of TanenbaumCHAT and Hillel Ontario, through to my practice which focusses on anxiety in school age children, I have seen first-hand how prevalent mental health issues are in our community settings. I have also seen how knowledge about mental health issues including where to go and what to do is empowering. It is for this reason that, together with the Koschitzky Center for Jewish Education and the support of Beth Tzedec Congregation, I have organized the second annual Mental Health Empowerment Day (MHED) which is taking place on Sunday October 28. This will be a very important day for all of us who work with children, or have children in our lives.The inaugural MHED in 2017 was sold out, even after moving to a larger location. From that experience, I learned there is a hunger in our community for coping strategies, open discussion and any initiative to end the stigma of mental illness. Mental illness is real- the Jewish community is not immune to it. One in five of our students in a class, camp cabin, March of the Living or Birthright bus or youth group is suffering from an anxiety or other mental health issue. We owe it to our children to help them as best we can. MHED is intended to do just that.We are bringing to Toronto (actually, to Canada) for the first time Dr. Torrey Creed, a world renowned expert on cognitive behavioural therapy from the Beck Institute in Philadelphia. In addition, Eli Brown, the CEO of Shine the Light On will share his lived experience and his current entrepreneurial initiative to help.Importantly, we are having two separate panels. From 12.30 to 4.00 there is a platform for professionals (teachers, guidance counsellors, camp staff, youth workers, case workers, physicians, therapists and anyone else who works with children) with Dr. Creed on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Youth. From 4.30 to 6.30 Dr. Creed will present a special platform for parents on Helpful Hints for Anxiety and ADHD. You can purchase tickets for both, or the one that is most directly of interest to you.There will also be many resources available in a “marketplace” including a pop-up shop from Caversham Booksellers.I am thrilled with the support of the Koschitzky Center, Beth Tzedec Congregation, and the many organizations in our community who have already purchased tickets to participate. Tickets are available at www.mhed.ca and if last year’s attendance was any indication, I recommend that you purchase tickets as soon as possible. Organizations planning to send more than ten people can contact the Koschitzky Center for group pricing information.I know that I am not the only person in our community who cares about mental health issues. Many do. Let’s all come together on Mental Health Empowerment Day, parents and professionals alike, to learn, to feel empowered, and to empower one another. This will help our kids. There is nothing more important than that.