FACT: MASK is dedicated to identifying teens in conflict by increasing knowledge and bringing awareness to our communities. This is the key that opens the door to prevention and helps save the lives of our children. MASK collaborates with Rabbonim, community leaders, and related organizations.
FACT: Many children suffer from learning disabilities such as ADD or ADHD. Others suffer from self-destructive behaviors such as anorexia, bulimia, and self-mutilation. In some situations, there are personality disorders, or other psychological conditions, which require professional guidance and/or intervention. FACT: Children from every segment of the Orthodox Jewish Community are involved in gambling, internet, alcohol and substance abuse. They face enormous dangers to their health and spirit. The ravages of drug abuse can range from alienation from their families and culture to malnutrition and/or emotional problems. FACT: MASK provides ongoing support for parents who are encouraged to keep in contact with each other between meetings. By sharing and offering support, the parents gain insight, and benefit from one another's experiences. FACT: MASK sponsors joint symposiums with various social service agencies world-wide.
FACT: When even one child in a family is experiencing difficulties, the entire family suffers.
From Behind the MASK
Mothers And Fathers Aligned Saving Kids
“My daughter bought a few articles of clothing that are inappropriate. She runs out of the house wearing them before I have a chance to stop her. She stays out very late. I’m concerned and am fearful for her safety.”…
“My daughter is doing poorly in school and does not speak of any friends. She seems depressed and hangs around the house all the time. She barely eats. When I ask her about friends, she gets angry and runs into her room. I suggested that she speak to a professional. She got angry and told me to leaver her alone; I know she needs help but do not know how to get her help.”…
“My son is consistently angry and snaps at the entire family. He has become extremely chutzpadik. He leaves the house whenever he feels like it, and comes home late without informing us where he is going or who he is seeing. He frightens me; I don’t know what to do.”…
“My son stopped davening and wearing tzitzis, and was exhibiting signs of an unhealthy lifestyle. His demeanor enraged my husband. There is so much anger and yelling at home. Tempers rise daily and contention is growing rapidly. I am at my wits end. I also feel so alone. I feel like no one understands what I am going through.”…
The above four scenarios are very typical situations of parents who make phone contact with MASK CONFIDENTIAL HELPLINE (available from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) on a daily basis. Within the context of that first phone call, once can detect various tones of fear, concern, anxiety, frustration, and anger. However, not all phone calls sound this desperate. Parents have become more comfortable in calling MASK before a crisis occurs. Prevention has become a very strong factor in averting problematic situations from manifesting.
Common issues such as ADD, ADHD, self-destructive behaviors, eating disorders, alcohol, and substance abuse are spoken of daily. The staff often recognizes the end of the story before the parent completes his sentence. It is unfortunately only too familiar and all too common. However, the pain is not. Each parent’s level of pain is a new experience for the compassionate staff. The desperate mother who is seeking guidance and direction does not know what type of response to anticipate. Yet, what she encounters is a warm and empathetic ear, a calming voice, and soothing words. There are no guarantees for miracles, but there are assurances of people who care about the family’s situation.
The MASK staff is always available to answer questions and to refer parents to the appropriate professionals, programs, or organizations. They are committed to guiding parents in the right direction so that they receive maximum assistance for their particular family crisis or situation. Yet, the assistance is occasionally not done only over the phone. Some parents require the personal touch. They are more comfortable sitting down in an office environment where, in a spirit of respect and concern, a staff member can listen to their story while completing the intake process, as well as offering the necessary guidance and referrals for assistance. At the end of that initial meeting, parents learn that MASK is here to help them, in every which way possible.
The help does not end with the phone call or with the personal intake. From that initial introduction to the MASK family, parents learn of how much more is available to them in their new status of parenting a struggling child.
At times the staff will provide referrals to therapists based on need, insurance and location… Sometimes a Yeshiva Liaison is necessary to assist parents in finding the proper yeshiva for their son/daughter. In some cases the Yeshiva Liaison also serves as a mediator between parents, child, and school as well as in dealing with truancy issues… then, too, there is concern for the other children.
The MASK organization provides ongoing support to parents through a number of venues. The weekly support groups deal with the following issues: bipolar, eating disorders, parenting skills, crisis intervention, 12 steps, and parenting intervention. Frum professionals facilitate the groups, and it gives the parents opportunities to meet in a safe and confidential forum, where they learn how to cope with family, school, parenting and or addiction issues. Current locations are in New York (Flatbush, Boro Park, Five-Towns), Lakewood, California, and Jerusalem. Parents are encouraged to keep in contact with each other between meetings, by offering support and sharing insight from one another’s experiences.
A second source of support is MASK’s Parent Mentoring. This approach offers support and guidance to “new” parents who are going through a difficult period and are facing new challenges. MASK matches a trained veteran parent with a new parent. This program enables new parents to benefit from the experiences of the veteran parent who will be accessible to the new parents who know that there is someone on whom they can rely for support and chizuk.
A third and extremely powerful avenue of support is the MASK International E-mail Support Group. This method of communication brings parents together from all parts of the USA, Canada, and abroad. Over 200 parents converse through this hyperlink. They offer chizuk, share their sorrow, pain, and discuss the progress of their children. They also share the knowledge that worked for them as they dealt with their daily challenges. This support group has become a source of achdus where parents offer solace and comfort to each other through friendship, concern, and love.
As a fellow contributor to the international e-mail support line, I would like to applaud the MASK organization for its ongoing devotion helping families within Klal Yisroel. MASK, a New York State Human Services Agency, has its staff trained in effective crises management and conflict resolution. They work in concert with Rabbanim and mental health agencies for direction in providing these necessary services. Likewise, MASK is committed to educating the community through forums on awareness and prevention. They stock a Lending Library that offers self-help books, DVDs, and CDs for community use.