New Course Guides Shluchim Addressing Global Mental Health Crisis

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An online course from Chabad On Call at Merkos 302 provides newer shluchim with the tools to help their community members navigate mental and emotional health challenges. Full Story

For Shluchos like Hadassa Hecht, it became apparent even just a few short months after moving on shlichus to Oxford, CT, with her husband Shmaya, that they were in the position to support community members through all sorts of emotional struggles.

“When a couple approached us for help in their marriage while we were only a few years into our own, we felt unsure of our role. We had suspected there was some abuse in the relationship, but we avoided discussing it because we didn’t know what to say,” said Hadassa, “We wished there was a place to learn the skills needed to navigate such situations successfully.”

The Hecht’s story is one of thousands like it. With one in six people worldwide affected by mental disorders, Shluchim around the world are on the front lines of the global mental health crisis. Often stepping into roles that require extensive knowledge and sensitivity.

Recognizing the need for more structured support, Chabad On Call at Merkos 302 has introduced a course entitled The Shluchim Toolbox: Mental Health Insights. The boot camp covers topics such as addiction, loss and grief, marriage and family dynamics, and trauma, exploring how these issues may manifest in communities, and how community leaders can help.

“Chabad Shluchim around the world are in a unique position of being the global support system of the Jewish people, both physically, spiritually, and emotionally. This is a responsibility they don’t take lightly, and many Shluchim have benefited from the extra training,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302. “The knowledge and awareness gained from it can be lifesaving.”

Featuring six flexible online modules, the course can be completed from the comfort of one’s home. Each module requires approximately 3-4 hours of work, including text-based study, videos, and interactive discussions. Participants are given one week to complete each module, ensuring the program fits seamlessly into their busy schedules.

“The course not only equipped me with practical tools but also provided a supportive network of fellow Shluchim to lean on in the future,” said Rabbi Simcha Backman, Shliach in Glendale, CA. “Meeting like-minded Shluchim on the course and maintaining contact with them helped us approach sensitive situations with tact and the benefit of shared experience.”

Live group sessions with expert facilitators and guest speakers are held after each module, offering deeper insights and the chance to ask questions. Men and women will have separate groups. Rabbi Michoel Gourarie, Shliach in Sydney, Australia, will lead the men’s group, and Dr. Rona Novick, Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education, will lead the women’s.
While this course is aimed at a cohort of Shluchim who have embarked on their Shlichus in the past seven years, Chabad On Call has plans for other courses in the future for a wider demographic, covering similar topics.

The course runs from July 18 to September 5 (Yud Beis Tammuz – Beis Elul).
Register before July 10 and save $100! Space is limited.

Sign up today at ChabadOnCall.com/Toolbox

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