Mental illness, as the name implies, is an illness. And, again, as the name implies, it can be cured. But, unlike strep throat, a mental health patient harbors fears of facing the cure and rejoining the world. His rehabilitation can be greatly delayed due to his inability to take those frightening steps.
Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Program, with its versatile services, includes an annual retreat. The much anticipated retreat creates an atmosphere that can enable that which cannot take place in a standard client/patient setting. The retreat has the potential to empower the patient, connect him to normative experiences, create encounters with a broad group of equals as well as to recharge batteries for the continued process of rehabilitation and provide a hiatus for the rest of the family who is invited to join.
The retreat takes place once a year with full hotel accommodations. Activities include trips, swimming, boating, entertainment/performances, jeeping, workshops and skits. The patients are encouraged to participate in the planning of the retreat, a rehabilitation tool in itself.
The informal social interaction that comes about in this safe, accepting environment can have far-reaching effects. At the retreat, the participants experience routine life alongside their special activities. There are daily prayers with the retreat leader. A few days after the retreat, the social worker got a call from the father of one of the participants. In a tremulous voice, he shared with us that his son had gone to daven (pray) in shul (synagogue) and had stepped up to the amud (lectern) to lead the Minchah (afternoon services) as chazzan (cantor). The elated father could not believe that his son, who was so withdrawn, had found the gumption to lead the congregation in prayers. “How did it happen?” he asked the social worker. “Your son served as chazzan (cantor) for Minchah at the retreat,” the social worker answered simply.
Devorah* who receives coaching services at home to promote her household functioning was doing fine in running her home. The professional staff felt she was ready to begin to join the workforce obtaining a job at Ezer Mizion’s rehab kitchen. She would be fully supported by a staff mentor, working in a controlled environment but her fears did not allow her to take the step. At the retreat, she met other women like her, raising children as she was and, nevertheless, going out to work at the Mental Health Division’s rehabilitative kitchen. A normative conversation with women like her accomplished what thousands of words from the coach and the professional staff hadn’t. Needless to say, today she works at a bakery and her rehabilitation process has taken a giant step forward.
Ezer Mizion’s Mental Health Division provides many services including individual coaching in the client’s home to improve personal functioning, mentoring in the public expanse to enhance client’s interpersonal interactions.
Rehabilitation is enhanced by a range of occupational rehabilitation services, in keeping with the client’s functional level, with the goal of sharpening occupational skills. Included is mentoring in the open job market. Musicians can take advantage of the rehabilitation program for musicians, geared to enhancing their occupational skills while professionalizing their skills in diverse musical subjects.
Group social activities, including a variety of clubs and rehabilitative activities are available with the overall goal of improving social skills.
The division is constantly growing to provide both rehabilitation for its clients and support for family members in this frightening nightmare that has taken over their lives.
Ezer Mizion provides services to over 660,000 of Israel’s population annually in addition to its Bone Marrow Registry which saves the lives of Jewish cancer patients the world over.