May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting one SDT sister who aims to eliminate shame and stigma around mental illness and provide life-saving financial support for mental health treatment to families in Georgia.
Did you know mental health treatment centers for youth can cost upwards of $18,000 per month and that one in five children struggle with their mental health, yet knowledge and support for children’s mental well-being are limited?
The prohibitive cost to provide necessary high-quality mental health treatment to children and teens is unfortunately unattainable for many families. Understanding the need for treatment, Michele (Lubin) Hirsch (Eta—Georgia) aims to support families in the Atlanta, Georgia area seeking treatment for their children.
Initially a social worker, Michele has always been drawn to helping others through the Jewish values of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). She is particularly passionate about pediatric and adolescent mental health.
“I have a child with a mood disorder—very complex—and he’s been very sick since the age of five. Since that time, we got involved in the pediatric component of it and have been invested in that,” Michele said.
Through her personal family philanthropic fund, the Hirsch Legacy Fund, Michele’s family created the Peaceful Family Fund, a program assisting eligible families with expenses for the treatment of behavioral and psychiatric issues in children 8-18. Children are awarded up to $50,000 to spend on various costs associated with receiving long-term out-of-home care.
Michele said children receiving out-of-home care often have multiple hospitalizations, and families often have extensive travel to visit their children, which adds up quickly. The financial support the Peaceful Family Fund provides is making an incredible impact on families.
“We’re saving lives–we are investing in individuals and not just doing it one time, we’re staying with them in the hopes of them continuing to live their lives post-treatment,” she said.
Currently, Michele has plans to open a complex case center in her home state of Georgia that would serve area children who have multiple diagnoses and complex cases. Making care more accessible is a key area of focus for Michele, but so is combatting the shame and stigma that can exist around mental health.
Michele said when people ask her where her kids go to school, she proudly tells them the truth, that one of her children is at a therapeutic boarding school. She said she feels empowered that she is willing to get her child quality care and able to make the financial commitment for it.
“There used to be a stigma around mental illness and treatment,” Michelle said. “People should look at it as part of who you are and be proud of who you are you and not let it hold you back.”
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Michele encourages sisters to consider how they can support one another’s mental health. She said simply showing more kindness to one another can go a long way. For alumnae who are psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors, she suggests offering programs or services to nearby collegians and alumnae. Thoughtful gestures like sending flowers to a chapter house or a card to a friend can make a difference in someone’s life.
Mental Health Resources
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline –Call 9
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Follow @988Lifeline
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640or email email@example.com.
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Follow @NAMI Communicate
- National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) – Call or text (800) 931-2237
Monday—Thursday 11 a.m.—9 p.m. ET and Friday 11 a.m.—5 p.m. ET
- Supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care.