May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County supports several critical mental health and wellness initiatives in our community, such as a new program at the Hadar High School for Girls.

Recognizing that high school can be challenging at times for students, as they navigate their identity, personal goals and various social dynamics, Hadar has incorporated more extensive programming within the school to help address mental health issues. These efforts bring both awareness and education to students on topics such as stress management, eating disorders, and emotional resilience, all with the goal of breaking stigmas.

The school’s on-site counselor has identified areas to prioritize, and the school has created a robust guest speaker program.

“There’s a lot of nuance that has to happen. We need to be sensitive to students who are struggling with the issues we are trying to address. We want to bring awareness and have to be careful with how we present these issues,” said Adina Landsberg, Hadar’s Director of Business and Donor Development.

Aiding young people in crisis with caring intervention

Our Federation also supports a Crisis and Therapeutic Response Program at Crossroads, an organization that provides intervention and support services to at-risk English-speaking teens in Israel, who are often wrongly stereotyped as members of an affluent and integrated immigrant community.

The typical profile of its vulnerable teen and young adult population includes individuals coming from family instability, abuse, trauma, financial hardship, and a spectrum of mental health problems. These teens often have a history of engaging in high-risk behaviors, unsafe lifestyles and struggling academically.

With Federation’s support, Crossroads is able to provide life-saving therapeutic and crisis intervention services to some of Israel’s most vulnerable teens.

One Crossroads client, who was struggling with depression, wrote: “I am finally someone that I’m proud of, and it’s all thanks to Crossroads. I wasn’t able to work last year. That’s how bad things were for me. Now, I have a good job, which I absolutely couldn’t see myself having last year. I thought I’d never be able to work again, but here I am working every day. I am in control of my life. I am happier. I’m still on a journey, but I see a great future ahead, and Crossroads was the stepping stone of change that is leading me down a healthy and happy path.”

Clearing the way for more mental health support

Our Federation also supports additional services in Counseling and Mental Health at Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS), making possible an additional psychiatric nurse practitioner and eliminating a waiting list for services.

Due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, JFS has seen an unprecedented demand for psychiatry and psychological services. Our partner agency has helped 800 individuals and families with affordable mental health services and provided approximately 8,000 hours of counseling, psychological testing, and psychiatric services.

More than 60 percent of those receiving mental health services at JFS require some form of financial assistance. Funds provided by our Federation help bridge the gap between what one hour of service costs and what an individual is able to afford to pay. To reach those in need, the program works in collaboration with the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida Atlantic University, 15 local synagogues, local Jewish Day Schools, Toby & Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences, and the Faulk Center.