To both mark the opening of the groundbreaking new OHEL Jaffa Family Campus, and to further break down the many stigmas that exist in the community, OHEL has published the inaugural journal Voices of Strength, available online and in print.
The journal confronts the stigmas that develop due to disability or circumstance that hurt, alienate, and marginalize so many in the community.
As Derek Saker, OHEL Director of Communications, comments, “We believe that the OHEL journal will help to open minds, and the new OHEL Jaffa Family Campus will provide welcomingly open doors to a more proactive community, seeking the necessary help when in need.”
At OHEL, we serve thousands of individuals via creative, innovative, and numerous programs that seek to help individuals lead full and healthy lives, no matter their issue or vulnerability. Our dedicated staff work painstakingly each day to treat clients with dignity, respect, empathy, and compassion, eluding the voices of stigma that surround their lives due to their clinical, psychiatric, developmental, familial, or other situation.
Dr. Hindie Klein, editor of the OHEL journal, says, “When reflecting on what types of stigmas to address, many conceptions came to mind. Ultimately, we chose diverse themes – voices, as it were – of stigmas that we see most often in our lives today, and within the current climate of our specific culture and society: mental illness. sexual abuse, divorce, infertility, older singles and finding the proper match, physical disability, developmental disability, the powerful career woman, individuals who lose their jobs and their fortunes.”
As evident in the essays in the journal, many of our contributors refer to both internalized and externalized experiences. There is the internal feeling of shame, of feeling/being flawed, less than. And there is the external reaction of stigma, which is placed upon the individual by society and culture. They feed upon each other in an infinite loop: A person is thought of as deficient, which makes him or her feel even more deficient or lacking.
We as a community stigmatize people who are different in some way.
As such, although significant strides have been made by OHEL and other organizations to address stigma, as individuals and as a community, we must work toward de-stigmatizing all of these situations via empathy, education, tolerance, and acceptance.
In our effort to eschew and eradicate stigma, we have sought to imbue our readers, as well as those challenged, with a true sense of hope.
Hope comes from a paradigm shift, a societal/cultural shift, a new way to be perceived and experienced. If our community develops a new attitude of respect, compassion and validation, those who are challenged will be helped.
The Voices of Strength journal is available online at ohelfamily.org/voicesofstrength, and free print copies can also be ordered online.