Jewish Family Service Working to Make Mental Health Matter

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This article was originally published in The Jewish Observer.
November 30, 2021
by Barbara Dab

A recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses between May 2020 and April 2021. The finding highlights not only the growing opioid crisis, but also a crisis in mental health. And while the Biden administration is getting involved in the fight against opioid addiction, locally the Jewish Family Service of Middle Tennessee is working on the mental health front.

According to Toni Jacobsen, Clinical Director of JFS, the COVID19 pandemic has served to bring conversations around mental health to the forefront. “Mental Health is often overlooked because it’s not something that can be easily seen, tested or measured.” She says it is important for people to recognize the many facets of mental health. “Mental health doesn’t always refer to an illness or someone with a diagnosis. Tending to our mental health might mean paying attention to the way we feel and manage our emotions in a healthy way.”

And, through a yearlong initiative called Mental Health Matters, JFS is presenting programs and offering resources designed to both destigmatize and educate about mental health. Pam Kelner, Executive Director of JFS, says the program aligns with one of the agency’s overarching goals, “We want to reduce stigma around mental health conversations and be inclusive while increasing awareness about the topic.”