Golda Och Academy has received a $187,000 grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for an important new initiative called Refuat HaNefesh: Post-Pandemic Expansion of Youth Mental Health Services. The one-year award dovetails with the school’s strategic plan to increase the social and emotional support services for students.
According to Lori Jaffe, Director of Student Services at Golda Och Academy, nearly every child in the country has suffered to some degree from the psychological effects of the pandemic.
“Researchers are saying the first wave of the pandemic was the virus, and the mental health crisis is the second wave,” Jaffe said. “For far too long, we have looked at education and mental health separately, but we know that mental wellness and academic achievement are interrelated. That is why now, more than ever, it is imperative to incorporate mental health practices in the school setting.”
While GOA has been proactive in its approach to students’ mental health, the grant affords the school with the opportunity to invest in the health and well-being of students in a broader and comprehensive way to expand its guidance staff for Pre-K to 12th grade. “Addressing the needs of our students must be a multi-pronged approach that includes building teachers’ capacity to view students’ behavior through the lens of a trauma sensitive approach, increasing parent education on raising awareness of mental health concerns, increasing individual and group counseling for students, and offering more mental health-related programming for students to proactively teach students skills and strategies to use when experiencing challenges,” added Jaffe.
Golda Och Academy’s Head of School Daniel Nevins added, “We are grateful to the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for partnering with us in promoting the mental health of our students. It is well known that students across the country are struggling with many sources of stress that can lead to anxiety and depression, among other challenges. This grant will allow us to expand our staff and services, supporting students directly and equipping faculty and parents to identify challenges and make effective interventions.”
Stephanie Bash-Soudry, Director of Institutional Advancement at Golda Och Academy, said, “We truly appreciate all the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey is doing to support the students at GOA and look forward to this new partnership with our school. We are deeply grateful to Michael Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, and Lisa Block, Senior Program Officer for their support and guidance throughout the process.”
GOA strives to provide social, emotional and academic support for students and their families at a critical time in their educational journey, and we look forward to expanding our safe, positive and successful school learning environment.