Community Mental Health Survey Graphic
(We Need to Talk)

The survey will be available through November.

We Need to Talk, a youth mental health initiative of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit in partnership with community agencies, has launched a community mental health survey. The purpose of the survey is to better understand what community members are struggling with and how the Detroit Jewish community can be supportive.

The survey is intended for youth, adults and agency professionals or teachers who work with youth and is available via the We Need To Talk website (www.wn2t.org). The survey can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Community members will be able to take the survey through November and responses are completely anonymous. Five participants will be selected at random to receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

“In particular, we want to help the youth in our community who are really struggling with their mental wellness during this extremely challenging time, so we want to understand – at the deepest level possible – what kinds of mental health programs, initiatives and supports are most needed today and how those may have changed since our program began,” JFMD Senior Planning Director Todd Krieger told the JN.

According to experts, the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a significant increase in mental illness.

The CDC published a study in August showing that 25 percent of young American adults (18-25) who were surveyed in June indicated that they had contemplated suicide as a result of the pandemic.

Ashley Schnaar, Youth Mental Health Coordinator for JFMD, has been directly working on the survey with a consultant, Sam Langstein, MSW who works for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in their NYC office.

The pandemic has been “part of the impetus for this survey,” Schnaar said, adding that the survey’s goal is “understanding what we can be doing to support youth and their parents and the professionals they’re working with right now, knowing that there’s increased isolation, people are out of their normal routines, and that it’ll exacerbate people’s mental health.”

While the survey results may align with other current surveys trends because of the pandemic, Schnaar says the focus of the study is also really about what the metro Detroit Jewish community can be doing to support youth mental health regardless of the effect of the pandemic.

The initiative began after results of the Federation’s 2016 Jewish Community Needs Assessment. In the “teen” portion of the study, Federation asked youth – amongst other things – what they or their friends struggle with, and learned 52% struggled with anxiety, 42% struggled with low self-esteem, and 42% struggled with sadness.

Knowing those numbers were high, Federation took action and formed a workgroup with representation from agencies throughout the community. A plan was built with core pillars including Education/Awareness, Training, and Interventional Supports.

“We want to really provide that education in the community that people need, and decrease the stigma associated with mental illness,” Krieger said.

The initiative has done quite a bit of suicide awareness and prevention training, training more than 700 agency professionals in total.

The goal of the initiative in that area is to have an entire community of people who are trained to identify someone who may be in crisis, and to be able to intervene.

According to Krieger, the questions on the survey assess need, evaluate where the initiative and community currently stand, and will be used as a baseline to understand where they are in meeting objectives.

“Once we have that data, that will help us understand what programs and initiatives we should be doing and focusing on.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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