HaOlam Monthy: Mental Health Awareness Month

Hey USY, welcome to the second edition of HaOlam Monthly!

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! This month has been recognized in the U.S. since 1949 when Mental Health America (MHA) created a mental health week, later turning into a mental health month for the month of May. It was created with the aim to spread awareness that many people struggle with mental illnesses, along with trying to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.

Every year, Mental Health Awareness Month has a new theme. This year’s theme has been Tools 2 Thrive! This topic focuses on providing everyone with the resources they need to improve their mental health regardless of their situation. Through distributing physical care packages, wellness messages, and checking in with our peers, we are able to provide support for each other.

“Mental health awareness is so important because everyone struggles with mental health at some point in their lives, and it’s important to normalize the conversation and get rid of the stigma that surrounds it. Struggling with mental health does not define you or make you not okay, and it’s crucial to know that there are people that can support you.” – Tamar Gewirtz, Emtza

Quarantining yourself at home is an important role in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, however, this does not mean that coping with the changes in your normal routine is easy. Taking care of yourself is necessary regardless of how long or short quarantine goes on because your mental state is continually evolving even through hard times.

Dealing with stress and anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic may feel overwhelming. You may not have the same feelings as your friends, classmates, family members, or others in your community, and that’s okay – everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. We are all feeling the sharp effects of limited interaction, so utilizing our time with each other, even if it’s online, can help create an alternative way of connecting with each other that’s not face-to-face.

USYers all around have created programs and initiatives to help make sure that everyone is able to find ways that they can still feel involved and keep up social interactions. Regions have been able to keep USYers engaged through online conventions, programs such as book clubs or game nights, and weekly check-ins. Even these short meetings can help build up the support that is needed for mental health.

“Some ways I have been opening up about [my mental health] is with my friends. I have been face-timing my friends a lot and have been talking about how we feel and how we are doing. I also have been journaling a lot! Writing down what I’m feeling has helped me to figure everything out.” – Sophie Scheer, Tzafon

It’s important to know that your thoughts and feelings are valid, and even though it can be tough during quarantine, your USY family will always have your back. For additional information, check out Refuat HaNefesh: A Guide to Mental Health from USY.

To give an update from April’s Ha’Olam Monthly, some USYers have continued their social action by making masks!

“To continue to participate in social action while in quarantine I have been seeing masks for a local group called Croton Mask Makers. They distribute the masks all over the tri-state area, and so far I have donated over 125 masks to them.” – Shoshana Daly, METNY

On another note, many regions have participated in pre-allocations, and continue to take their T.O. money from the year and apportion it to organizations that are meaningful to them. It’s imperative that each region gets a say in where their funds go, so make sure that your region is setting up a pre-allocations meeting!

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Anna Clauer and Jeremy Malaga

2020 SA/TO Outreach Chairpeople

Even through these tough times, you can still give back to the community and make a difference! Do you have examples of ways you are participating in social action during quarantine? We would love to hear about it! Share your stories with Michael Pincus, International Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President, at [email protected].