On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, the Sisterhood of Temple Shalom of Newton sponsored an event focused on mental health issues in our community.

“Never Worry Alone: How to Recognize If Your Loved One Is at Risk and Needs Help” specifically focused on recognizing the challenges of managing mental health issues. The evening began and ended with me and Rabbi Laura Abrasley leading the group of approximately 60 adults in the Mi Shebeirach, a traditional Jewish prayer for healing of mind, body and spirit, acknowledging that mental illness deserves recognition and healing, just as physical illness does.

The program featured a panel discussion led by noted local mental health professionals Allison Mountford, coordinator for therapeutic services at Newton Public Schools; Larry Berkowitz, co-founder and director of Riverside Trauma Center; Marsha Frankel, clinical director of services for older adults at Jewish Family & Children’s Service; and Susan Swick, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

The discussion centered on recognizing if a loved one is at a risk, when to worry and how to seek help. Common threads across the ages and red flags were highlighted. Handouts and a resource list were provided. The discussion was followed by a Q&A.

This event was supported by Newton Cares, a local coalition for suicide prevention and mental health, and received financial support from the Women of Reform Judaism. With input from questionnaires that were completed that evening, the Sisterhood will follow up with additional programs, such as providing suicide prevention training (facilitated by Newton Cares), improving the facilities at a local group home in Newton and arranging support groups for various constituencies in the Temple community.