The United States is currently seeing tens of thousands of Afghans pour into the country as Humanitarian Parolees. After spending weeks or months on military bases while awaiting processing, they are now in need of assistance, and Nashville’s Jewish community is coordinating efforts to do just that.
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.
In today’s screen centered world, many people consider letter writing to be merely a quaint throwback to B’nai Mitzvah and wedding and baby shower “thank you,” notes. But during the past year and a half, a revival of the handwritten letter has taken place between local seniors and Jewish Family Service volunteers.
The Covid19 pandemic has both triggered and highlighted the need to change the conversation around mental health issues. According to a recent survey of adults by the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of those responding reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, over 10 percent reported having started or increased substance use, more than one quarter reported stress-related symptoms, and over 10 percent reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days.
The late Kaaren Engel was a woman who was able to make any space a comfortable home. When her own home and art studio were lost in the historic flood in 2010, according to her daughter Zoe, “She was devastated, and hope felt very far away.”
As many in the Nashville Jewish community begin to venture outside their homes, albeit cautiously, for the senior population, it is a different story. This vulnerable group continues to stick close to home and the experience can be isolating and, at times, even dangerous. Recognizing the need to keep a closer watch on these folks, Jewish Family Service gradually expanded their outreach.
To address the need to reach more people, Jewish Family Service social workers recently received training and certification to provide tele-mental health treatment. Ashley Franklin, a LMSW social worker at JFS, says it was the increase in calls for assistance that triggered her desire for additional training. “Over the past several months we’ve become busier and received more requests for counseling.”
Tucked away in a nondescript building on the Vanderbilt University campus, a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and research assistants are working on what they hope will be a successful vaccine for COVID-19.
Toni Jacobsen, Clinical Director of JFS, answers questions about how JFS is pivoting to help those in need of financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish Family Service of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is being recognized by the Human Rights Campaign in its 2020 All Children All Families Report for its work in the field of same sex parent adoptions.