Farber students at the first meeting of their UMatter Club on Jan. 25.
Farber students at the first meeting of their UMatter Club on Jan. 25.

Friendship Circle program empowers teens to shatter stigma of mental health challenges.

Farber Hebrew Day School of Southfield held its first UMatter Club meeting on Jan. 25. UMatter operates within Friendship Circle and is a program focused on empowering teens to shatter the stigmas surrounding mental health challenges and suicide. 

Elissa Sternberg is the high school’s social worker and oversees the club along with senior Yaffa Klausner, who’s in charge of the club that meets on a weekly basis. Yaffa says the group has about a dozen members, and says she feels honored the club is getting recognition. 

“We tackle mental health-related struggles that students at our school may face and ways in which the school and other students could accommodate them,” Yaffa said, adding that the club is busy at work organizing the school’s UMatter Week coming up in April. The week will be dedicated to the many themes of the UMatter program and is filled with mental health-related speakers, activities and, more importantly, open conversations. 

Farber students at the first meeting of their UMatter Club on Jan. 25.
Farber students at the first meeting of their UMatter Club on Jan. 25. Nathan Vicar | Detroit Jewish News

Yaffa says the goal of this year’s UMatter Week is to make sure every single person in the school knows and feels they are being heard and cared about and to not be ashamed or scared to reach out for help if they need to. 

“The UMatter Club is a really great opportunity to have open conversations about mental health and how to improve our school’s overall environment,” said Daniella Weil, class of 2022. 

While topics may be tough, the students say it’s a fun environment.

“I really appreciate and enjoy the UMatter Club because it’s mixture of discussing commonly ignored topics surrounding mental health while also being a fun experience for everyone,” said Nava Feldman, class of 2025.

One Thing I Wish You Knew

Friendship Circle’s UMatter presents its fourth annual, “One Thing I Wish You Knew” event March 13 from 5-6:30 p.m. at Seaholm High School Auditorium in Birmingham and virtually via live stream.

The free in-person and virtual event will focus on empowering individuals, with a specific focus on teens, to shatter the stigmas surrounding mental health challenges.

“One Thing I Wish You Knew” provides teens and the entire community an opportunity to highlight the vulnerability and honesty of telling the people in their lives what they wish they know about their mental health journey. Participants will also discuss how their attempts to overcome challenges have often felt isolating and alienating. 

The event features a diverse group of speakers who will share their own personal struggles and their experiences working to overcome them.

Speakers include Yaffa Klausner, a senior at Farber Hebrew Day School who has struggled with self-worth, confidence and mental health challenges; Nancy Cutler, a mom, wife and pediatric cardiologist who lost her son to suicide; Merrik Michaelson, a junior at Frankel Jewish Academy who will share his unique experience of suffering from an eating disorder as a male; and Emma Feldberg, a senior at Cranbrook Schools who has struggled with mental health throughout high school.

Register at www.eventbrite.com/e/umatters-one-thing-i-wish-you-knew-tickets-261853239087. 

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