With kids’ mental health suffering due to pandemic, Jewish experts step up help

“Students are not the only ones in need of mental health. Educators and administrators also are asking for assistance, said Rivka Nissel, team director at the Jewish Board’s Seymour Askin Counseling Center in Brooklyn.

“Working with adults in the schools has become more necessary due to COVID,” Nissel said. “If the teaching staff is stressed, overwhelmed or experiencing trauma, it is difficult for them to contain it and model emotional wellness to their students. The adults in the system have asked for more support in the past year than they did two years ago.”

The Jewish Board has 15 mental health therapists providing more than 200 hours of service to about 2,000 students aged 5-18 in 13 Brooklyn yeshivas. Another 175 students receive ongoing psychotherapy in the board’s four satellite clinics.

Because nine of the 13 ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in the Jewish Board’s network did not use Zoom for remote learning, classes were held by telephone, and mental health professionals “had to be flexible and creative” in offering counseling by phone, Nissel said.

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