World Events and Mental Health

Last Thursday, the Finkelstein Memorial Library hosted a virtual event, titled “Negative Effects of World Events on Mental Health,” a seminar intended to help Rockland residents struggling with anxiety and depression.

Sponsored by the Montefiore Nyack Hospital, Yandira Melon, a social worker located in Nanuet, NY, led the presentation, which focused on world events and how they can negatively impact a person’s mental state.

The Finkelstein ’s description of the program states, “Vicarious trauma is the emotional residue of exposure to trauma that others experience.”

Sandra J. Arévalo, the Director of Community Health and Wellness and the Director of the Community Education Program at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, oversaw the program.

She commented on the timeliness of the topic, stating, “Working in and with the community, it has come to my attention how people get stressed by news of war, un-safety, crime, etc. Many people are suffering with these news and do not know how to manage all the information they are receiving to avoid personal stress. Thus the idea to organize and offer this program, to help people cope with bad news and possible stressors.”

Maria Vanessa Cipolla, the Finkelstein Memorial Library Head of Marketing and Communications, shared that current events, such as the Israel-Palestine War, are leading to heightened anxiety. The fear that the war will one day affect Rockland County directly is one of the reasons why programs like “Negative Effects of World Events on Mental Health” are so important.

“A lot of people are very afraid,” said Cippola. “A lot of people are very misinformed. And so we feel that it’s our duty to provide not only resources, but timely information to folks.”

Furthermore, Cippola says that the Finkelstein Memorial Library is happy to provide opportunities to Rockland County residents in which they can get the help they need to lead a healthier, safer life.

“I feel we have a huge role to play as a library,” she said. “The library is the cultural center of a community. It’s a wonderful place of exploration and learning, but it also is an opportunity for an institution to provide services, resources and information.”

Melon’s presentation is just one example of a service like the ones Cipolla described. The program touched on how world events can bring up new or old anxieties in a person’s life and even cause trauma to resurface. Melon followed this up with ways to reduce anxiety caused by world events, such as avoiding traumatic stories before bed in order to sleep better, physical activity and meditation or prayer.

“Stress is a silent killer,” said Arévalo. “If we do not learn to manage the information we receive and we let stress take over, our physical and mental health will start suffering and with us those around us. In order to have healthier communities stress management is vital.”

Both Arévalo and Cipolla shared that helping their community through programs like “Negative Effects of World Events on Mental Health” is part of what makes their careers so satisfying.

Luckily, through the partnership between the Finkelstein Memorial Library and the Montefiore Nyack Hospital, the two will be able to provide many more programs such as the one presented by Melon.

“What I love the most about my career is being able to listen to the needs of my community and the ability to bring them the programs they need to live healthier and happier,” said Arévalo. Cippola shared a similar sentiment, stating, “I have never been so fulfilled in my life because I’m seeing firsthand the impact that we have on people and their trajectory.”

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