Wings of Care is an organisation that cares for Jewish people with a mental illness and supports their families.
To increase community awareness Wings of Care has developed a charter. We are asking those who are interested in mental illness and affiliated with the JCCV to read, to comment and to sign the charter and to commit to supporting the ideas laid out in it (see last page of the attachment).
Please forward your comments to:
Ph. 03 9527 4866 Fax 03 9527 4488
Or email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your input.
Lorraine GRUMD Levy
Founding President of Wings of Care(Kanfei Chesed) Inc.
Hon. Secretary Jewish Mental Health Network
Founding Member JCCV Social Justice Committee
Consumer Website: www.vicnet.net.au/~msupport
Charter for the Activities and Principles of
Wings of Care
"Caring for Jewish People with a Mental Illness and Supporting their Families."
Wings of Care is an organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the care of Jewish people with a mental illness.
It is largely due to the high quality of care that we aim for that we are including a wider range of activities and continually growing. This has produced amongst other things the Mutual Support Group, the ERA program (educational and recreational activities), the Drop-in Group and the Carers’ group. These are a reflection of the needs of the individuals that cross our path.
We are engaged in direct services to those with a mental illness and to their families. Some of these services include negotiating on their behalf with the providers of medical and other services, educating the community about mental illness, advocating for the recognition of the rights of those with a mental illness and lobbying for the provision of adequate resources and services in both the Jewish and wider communities.
Negotiating on behalf of those Jewish people with a mental illness and advocating for their rights involve interactions and cooperation with other organizations. It is for this reason that we work with like-minded groups in the Jewish community through our Jewish Mental Health Network.. Through its membership with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s Social Justice Committee, Wings of Care is involved in a wide variety of issues relevant to mental health and related concerns.
Over a short period of time we have come across a wide variety of situations mostly through our helpline and in our Jewish Press. This has challenged us to offer help, support and solutions for those in need. This has formed the basis of our charter.
The purpose of this charter is to spell out the particular principles and activities in which we are now involved. This is a dynamic document - in the future, priorities and needs may change, and we may need to focus our attention on new areas of concern. Hopefully our charter will also grow and change to meet such demands.
A glossary of terms used in the charter is presented at the end of the document.
Taking into account all of the above, Wings of Care engages in activities aiming to:
1. Reduce Stigma and discrimination
The Australian Jewish community perceives itself as a community which aspires towards high achievement. Some Jews may feel embarrassed by those in our community who have a mental illness. They see this as a blemish on the image of the community. People who have a mental illness in the Jewish community can pick up on these negative feelings towards them and can feel ashamed or unworthy in some way.
The Jewish community needs to be educated about mental health by getting accessible information about mental illness and by accurate media representation about mental illness. Wings of Care will develop its own publications (both on the Web and elsewhere) and will encourage the publication of material in the mainstream print, broadcast and television media. Furthermore, Wings of Care will conduct forums where mental illness and associated issues can be discussed in an interactive way.
2. Admit for treatment in hospital before situations reach danger point
It is common practice for people with a mental illness to be refused entry into hospitals as they are not seen to be sufficiently ill. In other words, the system is often willing to wait until after their deteriorating mental state may have led the sufferer to physically damage themselves, their property, or others before admitting them to hospital. Wings of Care will press for the admission of ill persons when this is needed. Sadly, some of the refusals of admission have resulted in tragic consequences. This situation has arisen from the application of so-called ‘economic rationalism’ by governments of both party complexions, which has resulted in the depletion of hospital beds and the staff to resource them. Wings of Care will therefore also engage in activities aiming to:
3. Provide sufficient bed-space in hospital
There is sufficient data available to calculate accurately what the desirable bed supply should be. In the current atmosphere of governmental ‘fiscal responsibility’ there is more than enough money in the Commonwealth’s coffers to finance this need. However it must be recognised that, no matter which political parties are in power, the constitutional arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States complicate the proper provision of health care. Various solutions to this constitutional problem have been proposed. Wings of Care will actively advocate for the resolution of this matter to see to it that patients’ needs are met.
4. Discharge from hospital only when symptoms are under control and adequate community supports have been set in place
On the other side of this scenario there is the issue of premature discharge of some unfortunate clients. This is also directly due to the shortage of beds in hospitals.
The same advocacy as discussed under the previous heading will apply when clients are discharged too early from hospital. This discharge is often with insufficient supports. And hence there is a need to help.
5. Bridge the gap between hospital and home
Planned reentry into the Community is often not given enough attention once a patient is ready for discharge from hospital. As our volunteers usually visit clients both whilst they are in hospital and when they go home, we aim to provide a high level of continuity of care. This fills a gap in the mainstream services.
Wings of Care advocates a discharge plan from hospital that includes the option that our volunteers may be involved with Jewish clients.
We always need more volunteers to help the ever increasing demand. Maybe you can help!
6. Preserve the dignity of involuntary patients in hospital
People with a mental illness who are involuntarily admitted to hospital are often treated in an undignified manner. This is an insulting experience, which lowers a person’s self-worth both in their own eyes and in the eyes of those who perpetrate the indignity. Self esteem is already damaged by the experience of being ill. Lowering self-esteem even further may delay recovery. Such demeaning practices are unacceptable.
Wings of Care advocates the formulation of admission and treatment procedures for involuntary patients which respect the patient’s dignity while imposing the required treatment.
7. Better understanding needs to take place by all emergency service providers of appropriate interaction with people with a mental illness
A few years ago in Sydney on Bondi Beach, a young Jewish photographer brandishing a knife on the beach was shot and died while he was in an ‘unwell’ state. This was not an exceptional case - it’s just that here it confronted the Jewish community with an occurrence which has not been uncommon in the wider community of those with a mental illness.
Wings of Care will lobby for the implementation of protocols for the emergency services which will ensure that they approach people with a mental illness from the perspective of compassion and understanding rather than fear and danger. Such protocols will require that emergency services’ staff are sufficiently trained both in knowledge of mental illness and in conflict resolution and non-lethal self-defense strategies.
8. Provide specifically Jewish Services.
Reestablishing self-identity is often part of the process of rehabilitation. Re-identifying with one’s roots can be an extremely beneficial part of the process. Therefore, it may help Jewish people with a mental illness to connect with a Jewish organization and be cared for and have their families supported by Jewish people. If asked, Jewish clients are encouraged to consider whether they would like to be referred to Jewish mental health professionals. In the case of Holocaust survivors Jewish Mental Health professionals are our choice of referral.
Wings of Care recognises the role we can play in caring for and supporting our own Jewish clients and their families and encourages clients to make the right choice for them when we are asked for referrals to mental health professionals for all the abovementioned reasons. We embrace Jewishness in all its forms and endeavour to respond to the needs of all Jewish people who come to us for help.
9. Provide support and advocacy in the community
Mental health professionals are not sufficiently aware of the availability of Jewish rehabilitation programmes. More interest in this area of recovery would be beneficial to the Jewish community as a whole and in particular those that suffer from mental illness.
Wings of Care maintains that both societal and individual change is necessary for rehabilitation. Apart from standard forms of treatment (including medication), more emphasis by mental health professionals needs to be placed on rehabilitation of a psycho-social nature as part of the process of recovery. Wings of Care provides one such service. We have available holistic programmes as well as conventional ones. We believe that by accessing these programmes Jewish clients will find benefit.
10. Support family members significant others who are carers
Carers are central to the rehabilitation and maintenance of a large proportion of those with a mental illness. Such carers are most often close family members. They form an essential link in the chain connecting the sufferer to support organisations and the providers of medical treatment. They assist their ‘charge’ in their tasks required for their daily functioning. They are often the first to recognise signs of deterioration or relapse. Their role in the mental health system must be recognized and used when appropriate.
Carers are people with normal reactions. They can experience a strong sense of loss and grief when they discover that a family member is suffering with a mental illness. Similarly, in the course of their relative’s illness they are often under almost unbearable strain. This needs to be recognised, and appropriate support offered.
The provision of respite care for the person who has a mental illness, which gives the carer time away from their charges, may be essential to maintain the carer’s long-term role. Carers need to be informed as much as possible about the nature of the condition of those they care for. A positive and supportive outlook on the part of carers often greatly enhances the recovery of the sufferers. Our Carer group actively encourages carers to look after their own wellbeing.
Wings of Care recognises the needs of carers and encourages carers to access support groups that are available. Our carer support program aims to support the carers by providing more mental health education. We recognise that Jewish respite services need to be available.
11. Encourage peer support, self-help and education by service users
People with a mental illness benefit greatly by forming friendships, sharing experiences, their fears and concerns. A feeling of isolation is a very common issue that people with a mental illness often have to grapple with. Social skills such as learning to’ get along’ with each other through mutual understanding are to be encouraged.
Wings of Care encourages clients to support each other in a social environment.
12. Promote early detection
The more we learn about mental illness the nearer we come to help prevent suffering. The earlier signs of illness are detected, the greater the chance of reducing the intensity and duration of the illness.
13. Mental Illness and Poverty
In some situations mental illness and poverty go hand in hand. Poverty and Homelessness can create mental health conditions and mental health conditions can create homelessness. Some people need to look at special accommodation and learn how to manage their money after experiencing a mental illness.
If a person who has a mental illness cannot hold a paying job he or she often will be forced to live on a pension. This disadvantages them and can exacerbate their illness.
Wings of Care recognizes the issue of mental illness and poverty as being a major concern and has therefore implemented a project called Community Chest. This project enables Jewish people who have a mental illness to receive financial assistance for medical, psychiatric, optical and dental expenses; and domestic maintenance. Part of the philosophy of the Community Chest is to encourage, where possible, people to give back some of the money received to help support the next person who is in need.
14. Psychological Physical and Sexual Abuse
Psychological, Physical and Sexual Abuse are all prevalent in our Jewish community, though they are often concealed. They can exist with a mental health component. Victims often suffer from mental illness and children or adults can be perpetrators. Often victims are in denial and feel that there is no escape from the abuse.
Wings of Care encourages activities that raise the awareness of abuse in all its manifestations through forums on these topics in association with the Social Justice Committee of the JCCV. We encourage the community to more actively support the victims of abuse and to support activities that help prevent its occurrence in families, schools, socially, and any other situations.
We support victims of abuse who suffer from mental illness and the agencies caring for them.
Wings of Care also supports activities that help foster healthy relationships.
Wings of Care in its Charter supports people with a mental illness who are suffering hardship by lobbying for the Government to recognize their needs, requesting funding. All our services in rehabilitation are free for our client group, making this accessible to all.
Wings of Care encourages more people to be aware of the symptoms of mental illness in sufferers. As soon as these symptoms are recognized in a person appropriate treatment needs to be sought.
Support the activities and principles that Wings of Care is promoting in this charter by signing your name. Any comments will be welcomed and kept confidential.
Your contribution brings sufferers and carers a little bit closer to the point when the community will understand their plight and support them in their journey to wholeness.
Glossary of terms:
Those who on a daily basis assist persons who are unwell, so that they accomplish basic living tasks. Carers are usually a family member or a friend.
People who suffer from a mental illness.
People who suffer from a mental illness.
The plan made before a person is discharged from hospital, which details the supports that will be used to help that person fit successfully back in the community.
Treating a person or group of people in a different - and usually worse - way than the way in which the majority of people are treated.
These services include the ambulance service, police and fire-brigade.
In the context of mental illness, this is a person who is compelled by legal process to receive treatment and medication, whether he or she wishes it or not.
In Melbourne, these services include services supplied by Wings of Care and Jewish Care. The services cover programs for consumers as well as carers. (Elaborate on this in hyperlink)
Discharge before the client is ready to function in the Community.
A program that has both a psychological and a social basis. It takes into account both a person’s psychological state and needs and his or her social needs and social situation - i.e. do they have family, are they loners, etc. Such programs aim at increasing social as well as psychological rehabilitation and well-being.
Educational programs, usually involving a group of people, which may concentrate on daily living skills (e.g. shopping, simple cooking, cleaning, budgeting) or social skills (talking in groups, communicating by phone or internet, playing games with others) or physical skills (walking, exercise classes, competitive and cooperative games). Such programs assist a person become mentally well again after a time of being unwell.
(Elaborate on programs available)
A time when the regular carer is replaced by someone else for a short period This gives the carer and the person who is unwell a break from each other.
People who suffer from a mental illness.
The negative view of a particular group (in this case, the mentally ill) which is projected onto that group by others or that the group feels is so projected.
Unpaid workers for an organization, usually not certificated professionals, but provided with appropriate training. They are people motivated to work for their communities, who themselves need support to maintain them in their task.
have read the Wings of Care Charter and support the ideas expressed in it.