Vacation. Just the word alone conjures up feelings of anticipation, happiness and relaxation of tension. Many studies have shown the value of a vacation even for those leading successful, fulfilling lives. And for those that are not? Those that are battling the unimaginable challenges of mental health?
They experience a general feeling of well-being, increased self-esteem and a strong development of social bonds after taking part in the Ezer Mizion Mental Health Division Annual Retreat which gives them the positive energy to fight their battles in the months ahead.
The tremendously positive feedback shows how invaluable a getaway can be for rehabilitating mental health clients. Its success can be gauged from their comments as they head home, tired but so happy.
“Now I have the strength to return to the hostel.”
“Thank you for putting us in a place where we are respected like everyone else.”
“I missed my brother’s wedding because the dates coincided but I just couldn’t miss the retreat. It’s like oxygen to me.”
“For years, I have not felt such pleasure in learning Torah. The ‘v’haarev na’ (feeling of enjoyment) was back.”
“I felt like a mensch. Ezer Mizion thought of every detail.”
“I have never felt so much love. A chizuk (strengthening) for the soul.”
“I gained so much joy and I feel strong enough to resume routine living.”
“What a feeling of togetherness! It erased the loneliness that I feel every day. I experienced such a feeling of connection.”
The family members and staff have seen dramatic changes in the participants. The father of one of the clients called the rehab mentor in tears: “My son has barely stepped out of the house for the last three years. He only agreed to go to the retreat after we pleaded with him. He came home unbelievably happy.” The counselor reported that following the retreat, the client is more emotionally stable and able to go out of the house and be part of the world.
The mother of one of the participants called the Sunday after the retreat and to thank us and tell us that her son had sat at the Shabbat table like an equal. “He’d always sat there silently. He didn’t have anything to share. This Shabbat, he was the star of the show.”
The director of the hostel called up after the retreat, and told us that one of the participants had been on the verge of hospitalization. They debated as to whether he was up to going on the retreat. Now, he wanted to know how the client had functioned. The counselor said that he’d functioned fully and very happily. The hostel director couldn’t believe his ears!
The director of the residence network for rehabilitating the mentally ill sent an email with quotes from the participants about how much they’d enjoyed the retreat and how they’d experienced such special attention. She concluded her words with a question to Ezer Mizion Mental Health staff: “Explain to me – how did you do it? How did you take these people and give them a new horizon? How did you do it?!”
Perhaps it all stems from the source, Rav Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion who treats each patient with the ultimate in compassion and dignity. His mindset flows down and imbues each staff member, from the professionals to the volunteers, with a plethora of love and respect for all who knock on the doors of Ezer Mizion.