OHEL Continues to Raise Mental Health Awareness in Communities

By Sephardic News Jan 09, 2019 01:17 PM

Dr. Norman Blumenthal, Director of Trauma, Bereavement and Crisis Response, at OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services, was a keynote speaker at the Baltimore community-wide event titled “One Crucial night or Raise Mental Health Awareness.”

The event exceeded all expectations, and indicative of the need at hand, saw over 400 at the event, was live-streamed reaching over 1,200 people – and has since been seen by thousands online.

The evening, held at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion synagogue in Baltimore, was organized by Mrs. Suzann Lesson MOTR/L a local occupational therapist, whose vision and perseveration, made real this important event.

The key speakers at the event were Dr. Norman Blumenthal of OHEL and Rabbi Ephraim Aliyah Shapiro, Mara D’Asra of Shaaray Tefilah Congregation in North Miami Beach, Florida, The event was moderated by Rabbi Yisrael Slansky, Director of RELIEF Resources Services of Baltimore.

Dr. Blumenthal who has widely spoken in communities far and wide across the U.S and beyond, has with OHEL, been a tireless advocate in raising the awareness of mental health issues, breaking down stigma, and nurturing a community far more proactive in seeking the help needed.

Setting the tone of the evening, to awaken action, Dr. Norman Blumenthal powerfully conveyed “The time has come to destigmatize mental illness and destigmatize psychotherapy.”

Reflecting on the urgency at hand by way of the tragic increase in suicides, Dr. Blumenthal conveyed that this reality was in many parts the result of continued stigmatization and a feeling of helplessness by many, resulting in not getting treatment.

Dr. Blumenthal likened mental illness just like any physical ailment, where professional treatment is available. So too, much like a physical ailment which not timely addressed worsens, so to a mental health issue not addressed, will only further aggravate the condition, resulting in greater intervention.

The founder of Chazkeinu, Zahava List, was also present and made available an abundance of information about her international women’s support group for people with mental illness.

Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro emphasized the need for caring for one another. As he explained, people suffering from mental health issues “Don’t care what people know, they want to know that people care”.  Rabbi Shapiro conveyed that no one should ever have to feel completely alone”. He stressed the power of davening for the refuah of people with mental health issues. And he concluded his speech echoing the words of Dr. Blumenthal, with the words, “Stop the stigma”.

Together with OHEL, the event was graciously sponsored by Levindale Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Bikur Cholim, RELIEF Resources, Ahavas Yisrael, Hatzalah, CBMI/Lev Shlomo, Jewish Caring Network and Jewish Community Services.  

This year, OHEL celebrates 50 years of service in elevating the lives of thousands of individuals, and strengthening communities.

Servicing the needs of over 11,000 individuals, OHEL has been a trailblazer through decades of innovative programs and services that meet the increasing and diverse needs of growing communities. The breadth of OHEL’s experience and expertise is second to none, from mental health services to developmental disability services, from foster care to eldercare services, from medical services to trauma services. These programs and services can be accessed from the new OHEL Jaffa Family Campus in Flatbush and the Kleinmain Regional Family Center in Far Rockaway.

Importantly, OHEL’s Crises Response Team provides on-site support to communities struck by tragedy and natural disasters, whether providing training and workshops to local mental health professionals and/or guidance and support to the wider community.

For more information on these many services please call OHEL Access at 1800-603-OHEL, www.ohelfamily.org or access@ohelfamily.org