The Westfield Mental Health Council was formed to provide individuals and families with resources to assist with the identification, treatment and support for those with emotional and behavioral concerns. Through council discussions, there was an increasing understanding of the need to de-stigmatize mental illness and to increase knowledge of mental wellness within the town.

Through the Council’s research and discussion process, C.A.K.E was launched to share within our community the importance of: COMPASSION, ACCEPTANCE, KINDNESS and EMPATHY.  C.A.K.E. is focused on embedding these four behaviors in every-day life and interactions with neighbors, family, friends, co-workers and others, while combating the STIGMA of emotional and behavioral distress. C.A.K.E. is meant to promote a more supportive town environment to help weather any storm that strikes the town and/or its residents.

As is evident, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Westfield is seeing an increase in C.A.K.E behaviors; whether it be local restaurants supporting first responders, residents posting messages of encouragement around their homes and on social media, or other individual acts of C.A.K.E within the community to lift one another. This is a unique time to understand, and learn from the current situation, that practicing C.A.K.E., as residents are doing now, can help us grow and learn more about our own mental health and wellbeing.

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Additionally, there is awareness that symptoms of psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety are growing during the COVID-19 pandemic due to many factors, including grief, the need to socially distance, loss of employment and financial stability, as well as loss of opportunities. 

Furthermore, when social distancing restrictions are lifted, individuals are likely to continue to experience some level of ongoing distress. The Westfield Mental Health Council hopes to be available with educational resources, activities and events to help address and support the community.  Please visit https://www.westfieldnj.gov/mentalhealthcouncil to learn more about the Council.

Offering “a slice of C.A.K.E” to one another will allow Westfield to emerge from this pandemic stronger and full of vitality and support for one another. Perhaps the recipient is a neighbor who is overburdened, anxious, widowed or simply in need of an outreach. Readers are encouraged to submit when they see C.A.K.E. behaviors to CAKE@westfieldnj.org for an opportunity to acknowledge these acts in future articles on the Westfield Mental Health website.