Inspiring Comfort is Highlighted as Innovative Mental Health Program in NY

New York State is the first state to mandate mental health education. Starting this fall, all elementary, middle and high schools in the state of NY will be required to teach mental health. 

The Mental Health Association of NY (MHANYS) has been tasked with creating a resource center to help the schools in NY meet these requirements.  In their latest newsletter Inspiring Comfort and our programs were featured in the Innovations in Mental Health section. Here's what they wrote:

Teaching Comfort, Awakening Empathy in your Classroom

It’s no secret that there is a silent epidemic among us that continues to
escalate and trend upward on all levels of society – the Loneliness
Epidemic. You most likely see it every day… students and staff isolated
away as they suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief,
illness, etc. We ourselves are often hesitant to reach out and connect with
and comfort them. We think “I don’t know what to say,” “I don’t want to
bring it up and make them upset,” “I think they are probably over it.”
These non-actions leave the struggling person feeling even more alone, more
isolated and more hurt. These non-actions are prevalent on all levels of
society today.

According to the creators of Inspiring Comfort, teaching and facilitating
acts of kindness may not be enough. To end being lonely and isolated, these
innovators encourage students to make meaningful, caring connections;
however, kindness does not always require that meaningful connection. It
can be done randomly or with the click of an emoji.

Inspiring Comfort was developed based on the observation of comfort dogs
over a 5 year period in crisis response settings in schools and
communities. The comfort dogs always know what to do to help those
hurting, while most humans fail to connect. These beautiful lessons and
illustrations are incorporated throughout all programming.

Unlike other mental health programs that are theory based or encourage the
one hurting to find solutions, Inspiring Comfort teaches clear steps to
take in order to form this caring connection. In most program sessions,
participants create a personalized Comfort Plaque to be intentionally given
to someone in need of comfort, thereby creating a personal human connection
without a device (like a phone) in hand. By practicing the program’s
“Circle of Comfort” * (see graphic), a connection is required. And this
connection ends up helping both the giver and the receiver of the comfort.

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 2.25.07 PM.png

There are currently programs available for elementary, middle and high
schools starting at grade 3. Programs can be used for service day projects
and activities, after school clubs or special days of learning. Later this
year a curriculum kit that includes 12 age-appropriate lessons on deep
skill development for grades 3-8 will be introduced. It will meet national
educational standards and include writing, art, and mental health
components to meet SEL and mental health requirements.

For adults, team bonding activities are available for staff development
days.

All programs come with a detailed Facilitator’s Guide, program lessons,
activities, printable worksheets, PPT slides, and all supplies needed.

Teaching comfort awakens empathy, according to the creators of Inspiring
Comfort and, as a result, a compassionate connection is enabled and given.
Session participants are empowered to make a real difference in the lives
of others… and their own.

Thank you MHANYS and New York State for taking the first steps to help tackle many issues facing our students today.  We are proud to be taking part in the solution.

Link to Newsletter featuring Inspiring Comforthttps://mhanys.org/mh-update-6-25-28-mhanys-healthy-young-minds-june-edition/

Link to Dr. TV panel discussing NY State Mandating Mental Health: www.thedoctorstv.com/videos/mental-health-education-schools

Link to MHANYS New Resource Center for NY Schools: www.mentalhealthednys.org

Should Schools Mandate Mental Health? Here's an article on the topic in Education Week: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/06/22/should-schools-require-mental-health-education-two.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3&M=58526958&U=2690798

For more information about Inspiring Comfort visit www.inspiringcomfort.com,
or Facebook at www.facebook.com/inspiringcomfort. You can also send an email
to info@inspiringcomfort.com with questions or to inquire about a “Gift a
Kit” program – an innovative program where individuals or groups can easily
donate a kit to your school or organization.

Jen Marr