Jewish Family Service and Dr. Jeffrey London have partnered to lead a workshop discussing depression, mood disorders and different ways to cope during this difficult time. Workshops will be held on the first Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m.

Jewish Family Service and Dr. Jeffrey London have partnered to lead a workshop discussing depression, mood disorders and different ways to cope during this difficult time. Workshops will be held on the first Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m.

Photo by Jacob Herbert


Group focuses on mood during COVID-19

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published March 12, 2021

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SOUTHFIELD — Keeping spirits up during the gloomy days of winter is hard enough. The isolation and litany of other issues that have come along with COVID-19 have made this particular winter hard on a lot of people.

As the weather starts to get warmer and the sun starts to shine longer, Jewish Family Services has partnered with Dr. Jeffrey London to discuss depression and other mood disorders and the different ways to cope during this difficult time.

London recently retired from Havenwyck Hospital in Auburn Hills and has been involved in psychiatry for 40 years. Looking to partner with an agency to give back to the community and to get mental health needs talked about, London went to JFS CEO Perry Ohren in July 2020, and a partnership was born.

Jewish Family Services Director of Behavioral Health Wendy Svatora said workshops have been ongoing since October, the latest being held virtually March 3.

“It was truly amazing,” Svatora said about the March 3 workshop. “We had about 20 people that were community members with myself and Dr. London as the co-hosts. He split the presentation into three areas, with the first being depression in the COVID environment, then bipolar and mood disorders during the pandemic, then the recent development with the unrest in the nation, the vaccine coming out and how that’s all playing into families and the moods that people are feeling. There’s a little bit of hope, but a little bit of uncertainty still.”

A lot of the concerns brought up by workshop attendees centered around working from home and schooling from home, something a lot of people are dealing with for the first time.

“When you think about the work environment before COVID, you got up at 6 o’clock or whatever it was, you prepared for the day by dressing and then physically went to an office. There was a structured thing that happened during your day,” Svatora said.

When that structure is interrupted, it can help to treat the day just like you’re going into an office. Wake up at the same time every day and dress for work. Do anything possible to create more structure within the workday.

Svatora also suggested scheduling breaks throughout the day, something to get people up and out of their seats, with work out of sight and out of mind even if just for a short period of time. Schedule Zoom meetings with friends over lunch or take a short walk outside.

Jewish Family Services will continue to hold these workshops with London. They will be held at 3:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month. Those interested in attending the workshop should call JFS at (248) 592-2313.

When it comes to young people, many of them are also experiencing this for the first time. The isolation that comes from schooling from home and being cut off from friends can take its toll.

Keshawn McMiller, the co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Youth-Esteemed Teens Empowerment Groups, was able to offer some advice to young people navigating through unprecedented times.

“If I could give some advice on how to cope with these new symptoms, I would say self-care is very important,” McMiller said. “I would want teens to think about things they like doing right now. Think about what relaxes them. If you have some friends that you haven’t seen in a while, get together and have a video chat without the context of being in school. Social isolation doesn’t have to be an infinite thing.”

The empowerment group McMiller is involved in is a collaborative effort between Southfield Youth Assistance and Southfield Mental Health Associates. The group offers an eight-week series for high schoolers in the Southfield area to empower them on decision making skills while providing a supportive and purpose-driven, group-focused space.

“What we teach the teens are a lot of soft skills,” McMiller said. “Everybody wants to have the talent and the hard skills to do the job, but nobody wants to learn how to regulate their emotions or negotiate through conflict or manage their stress. When things pile up, such as right now, you’re not going to know how to do that and you’re not going to have a good time. After these eight weeks they’ll walk away with a framework of these soft skills that they’ll be able to build upon.”

Those interested in learning more about the Teen Empowerment Group can email McMiller at keyshawnmcmiller@yahoo.com.

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