Tampa Jewish Family Services plans to offer virtual mental health workshops over the next four Wednesdays for people struggling with grief, trauma and chronic illness.
The workshops are designed and co-hosted by Soaringwords, a New York organization that advocates for individuals to take an active role in their mental healing, said CEO and founder Lisa Honig Buksbaum.
The four sessions each begin at noon, starting this week. They are free for all participants and funded by a grant from the Lawrence IV Love Foundation.
“It’s just a wonderful opportunity … to get some really good skills that they can take into their lives immediately and experience greater physical, mental or emotional well-being,” Buksbaum said.
• The first workshop on Wednesday focuses on character strength and features Ryan Niemiec, adjunct psychology professor at Xavier University and education director of the VIA Institute on Character, a Cincinnati organization that studies the psychology of character strength.
During the hourlong session, Buksbaum said she will go back and forth between a pre-recorded interview with Niemiec and a live discussion with attendees, and will go over some mental health exercises. Those who sign up will receive a virtual workbook. Subsequent workshops will follow a similar format.
• The Nov. 3 workshop on self-compassion highlights Kristin Neff, author and associate education psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. Neff has also co-created an eight-week program to develop self-compassion that has been taught around the world, Buksbaum said.
• The Nov. 10 workshop on growth mindset will be headlined by Carol Dweck, author and psychology professor at Stanford University, Buksbaum said. Dweck is a social psychologist known for her theories on motivation and success, and wrote Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
• The final Nov. 17 workshop on life meaning welcomes Michael Steger, psychology professor at Colorado State University and director of the university’s Center for Meaning and Purpose, which researches and teaches courses on positive psychology, Buksbaum said.
The Soaringwords workshops debuted in October 2020 and were so successful that Tampa Jewish Family Services CEO Beth Ann Gemunder said they decided to bring them back this year.
Last year’s participants told Gemunder that the workshops equipped them with new mental tools and ways of thinking that they have since applied to various challenges in their lives.
Attendees can sign up for one or as many as all four sessions, she said. She saw people increasingly open up in the workshop with each session they attended.
“It was really gratifying to know that we were able to have such an impact on the community,” Gemunder said.
COVID has made mental health programming for grief or chronic illness more important than ever, Buksbaum said.
“There’s really no one who hasn’t been affected by this global pandemic,” she said.
Tampa Jewish Family Services is a social service agency that offers a community food bank, psychological counseling, and financial assistance to families and individuals in need. The organization is headquartered in the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center and has community food banks in North Tampa and Brandon.