Jewish Care Victoria to address growing concerns surrounding mental health

November 29, 2021 by Elana Bedwell
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The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have had a significant impact on the mental health of our entire community.

The increasing presence of mental health issues has fuelled a need for a communal response. Jewish Care Victoria will lead the response by conducting an independent review which will help create an evidence-based response for future service evolution.

Historically, Jewish Care has responded to individuals and families impacted by mental health issues via a program known as Service Coordination. This program is a case management, information, navigation and support service run by tertiary qualified social workers. Over 40% of referrals to this team identify mental health as a primary issue.

Jewish Care will be embarking upon an initial response, comprising of three key elements:

  1. Bolstering the very significant work of our Case Managers with additional resources to cope with increased demand and complexity.
  2. Provide immediate education and training for schools and youth movements.
  3. Conducting an independent review to assess the community’s need and Jewish Care’s ability to upscale and or adapt existing infrastructure to address needs as verified by the data.  This review will be overseen by a representative reference committee to oversee this initial process.

Immediately, Jewish Care scaled up the community capacity building, to focus on the mental health needs of young people by developing resources and training targeting youth movement and school leaders. This has included a targeted focus on eating disorders and a recognition that the schools and youth movements will face immediate challenges in the coming few months with the return of children to face to face learning and camps.

“We believe, this initial response will ensure that Jewish Care Victoria will be well placed to make a considered and responsible decision on the best way forward in regard to addressing mental health,” said Marilyn Kraner – Mental Health Social Worker and Manager of Individual and Family Services at Jewish Care.

The independent review will determine the best way to respond strategically and adapt to the changing mental health needs of the community. The review will consider the findings of the Royal Commission into Mental Health and subsequent reform agenda as well as capture community views through targeted focus groups with impacted families and benchmark against other similar multicultural services.

A Reference Committee to oversee the review has been established comprising of the following individuals:

  • Simone Szalmuk-Singer, Co-Vice President, Jewish Care Victoria
  • Dr John Serry, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Review Board
  • Dori Kabillo, Psychologist, Director Nexus Psychology
  • Daniel Jenshel, former Jewish Care Director, CCARE advisory panels and co-founder Men’s Haven
  • Adjunct Prof. Alan Lilly, incoming CEO, Jewish Care Victoria
  • Cindy Joffe, Acting Chief Operating Officer, Jewish Care Victoria
  • Marilyn Kraner, Mental Health Social Worker, Manager Individual & Family Services, Jewish Care Victoria
  • Cassandra Barrett, Program Manager, Healthy Communities & Youth Mentoring, Jewish Care Victoria

Committee member, Daniel Jenshel said, “Our imperative is to ensure the decisions we make today will serve our community for years to come.”

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