Today's Blogpost was written by Jocelyn Goldberg, a Yahel Social Change fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9-months in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion.
During orientation, Yahel Fellows were introduced to an organization called Ammitim in Rishon LeZion. Two Ammitim social workers, Hadass and Yoav, showed us an Israeli PSA discussing mental illness and introduced the organization’s approach to preventative mental healthcare. Ammitim stresses a recovery model of mental illness where participants are empowered, with workshops and skill-building courses, to drive their own recovery. This framework views recovery as a strength based, peer supported, and holistic process that respects each individual’s idiosyncratic journey. Since the recovery process is centered upon finding purpose and building community, Ammitim creates initiatives that value holistic and thoughtful discussions of mental health.
As a student of psychology, I am interested in mental health models that de-institutionalize mental healthcare. I am fascinated by the growing social movement to reject society’s strict binary of normal and abnormal behaviour. What does it look like to live in a world where all of our behaviours exist on a continuum of what is “normal” and “abnormal” instead of a strict binary? From this view, recovery is possible because it exists on a spectrum, allowing individuals to understand it as a continuous process instead of a strict outcome. Cinemind was the perfect opportunity to partner with Ammitim to advance a grassroots, collaborative space to openly discuss mental health and build a foundation of social inclusion within the community that is based in a more holistic understanding of mental illness.
Each month, members of the community, including members of Yahel and Ammitim, meet to watch short media clips and discuss them as they relate to our understanding of mental illness. We have covered topics ranging from stigma, to the power of disclosure and asking ourselves, “What is normal?”.
Cinemind beautifully encapsulates the inclusive and thoughtful essence of Ammitim that Hadass and Yoav introduced to us in the beginning of the year. It is truly a partnership between Yahel, Ammitim social workers, and Ammitim participants, who each give their unique perspective. Each week we meet to discuss pertinent topics in the world of mental health and to brainstorm topics that would be of interest to the wider community. The collaboration among us not only enriches wider discussion at our monthly meetings, but provides fresh perspectives on mental health in society and in the media.
It’s been wonderful to be able to facilitate these discussions and contribute to a culture that destigmatizes mental illness. Furthermore, we hope that through our efforts, participants will be encouraged to take these discussions back out into the community.