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Webinar covered how to support vulnerable in these uncertain times

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Now You Know: Mental Health and Resilience During Covid-19 was a webinar presented by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, June 8, to help participants build resilience, and stay emotionally and mentally healthy during the pandemic.

A panel of mental health experts suggested key factors for understanding how the existence of the virus has reshaped our lives, and created or exacerbated mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, trauma and methods of coping.

The panel included Dr. Allan Kaplan, Professor of Psychiatry and Vice Dean for Graduate and Academic Affairs at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine; Dr. Karen Katchen, Psychologist and Executive Coach, and Dr. Zindel Segal, Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at University of Toronto, Scarborough campus. The Executive Director of Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto, Brian Prousky, served as moderator. 

During a highly informative and stimulating discussion, the panel first explored ways to help a person settle their mind when they get carried away with worries about Covid-19. Dr. Segal suggested introducing ways to slow down thinking, and calm oneself through breathing exercises and simple meditation practices. There are online groups that help boost emotional resilience, and one can reach out to social connections and networks, set small goals and look for ways to develop a sense of purpose.

The panel was asked how to mitigate the impact on individuals who are already vulnerable and have a pre-existing mental health condition.  Dr. Kaplan pointed out that vulnerable people need to maintain previous supports, and suggested training individuals to provide psychological first aid to those who need it. In addition, we need to identify those at risk and see ourselves as contact persons for those who are especially challenged in coping with unusual circumstances.

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For most of us – who feel as though our world has been turned upside down – the panel noted that need to view ourselves as intact persons coping with difficult circumstances, and must try to look after ourselves. We are all experiencing a disruption of daily routines, separated from loved ones and support systems, and face the unpredictability and uncertainty of Coronavirus.

So too, the lockdown has affected Jewish life in the community: social distancing has led to limiting funeral attendance and comforting loved ones, weddings with only a few guests physically present, and other restrictions. Celebrating events using Zoom is not enough to re-establish a sense of community, and many struggle to cope with increased isolation.                                

However, the panel advised that we can try to reach out to those who are most vulnerable, ask questions, be attentive listeners, and offer support when a friend or family member is feeling overwhelmed.

Judy Weinryb is a published author who facilitates a Creative Writing class on zoom at the Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living.

She has been a freelance writer for the Canadian Jewish News, the Jewish Tribune and the Markham Review. A social worker for many years, she has an interest in Jewish Community from both a professional and personal perspective.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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