In the last several years, Jewish Family Service has had many conversations with community leaders and has been looking at data around youth and young adult mental health. It has become clear there is an increasing need for us to expand our services to better support teens, young adults, their parents and the community organizations that work with them.
The initiative to do just that will begin in 2019. Full implementation will take up to two or three years.
Jewish Needs Task Force: Hearing the Call
A committee of eight — four JFS Board members, one community member and three staff members — convened during 2018 at the request of the Board to explore ways JFS can more fully meet the needs of the Jewish community. The committee interviewed and discussed the topic with 15 Jewish community partners and institutions. In January 2019, the committee presented their findings to the JFS Board.
While they identified several priorities, the request we heard the loudest from organizations was the need for youth and young adult mental health services, which is consistent with the feedback JFS has received from the community during the last several years.
Supporting Youth and Families
JFS has been working to support young adults and families throughout the years with its services and engagement opportunities. JFS has been providing clinical oversight for a counseling partnership with Hillel at The University of Washington since the program’s inception. In 2018, JFS hired Erica Wickoda to establish the child and family therapy practice with a trauma-informed approach that is embedded within our greater network of domestic violence, counseling and addiction services.
JFS also has been able to provide Mental Health First Aid trainings for adults and for people who work closely with youth in the community. In February 2019, Shaida Hossein, Community Engagement Specialist, led the first training for community members that focused on supporting youth.
Youth and Young Adult Initiative
This initiative will seek to improve the mental health outcomes of Jewish youth and young adults, including helping their parents feel more supported. Through this initiative we will also provide important information about youth mental health to parents and professionals that work closely with teens and young adults.
Scope One: Addressing the Clinical Need
JFS is hiring a therapist for youth and young adults during the 2019 calendar year and will continue to explore how we can better meet the needs of the community.
Scope Two: Parent and Professional Support
We are expanding our Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings in the community and looking at additional ways to support parents and professionals who work with youth.
Scope Three: Teen Engagement and Outreach
Exploring teen engagement opportunities.