Bell Let’s Talk launched in 2010 with a focus on building awareness, acceptance and action in mental health. Since then Canadians have taken the conversation around mental health to remarkable heights, making it clear that mental health matters.
Dr. Hadley Koltun, a Psychologist at JVS Toronto’s Career, Education and Psychology Services, addresses some questions regarding mental health; its symptoms, diagnosis and how those who are struggling can find help and support in the workplace.
Q. What are the signs that may indicate you are struggling with mental health?
Mental health challenges cover a wide variety of different moods and behaviours. Symptoms of mental health issues may include:
- Increased fatigue
- Sleep issues - sleeping less or more than usual
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent colds, flu, or infections
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Increased feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and/or sadness
- Feeling trapped or overwhelmed
- Procrastination or excessive busyness
- Feeling incompetent
- Isolating oneself from friends and family
- Increased irritability
- Excessive worry
- Loss of sense of humour
- Loss of enjoyment in activities you once found pleasurable
If you, a friend, colleague or family member are experiencing several of these symptoms, it may be an indication of a problem that requires professional care or support.
Q. How is a mental health disorder diagnosed?
A mental health disorder is diagnosed by a registered health professional such as a physician or psychologist. Social workers and psychotherapists are registered health professionals but are not authorized to make such a diagnosis. To diagnose a disorder, a psychologist will conduct an assessment. Typically, an assessment will involve an interview with the client and the completion of standardized checklists or surveys. It may take more than one visit to determine whether or not a client has a mental health disorder, which disorder it is, and what accommodations or interventions are required.
Q. What are some of the symptoms people with mental heath issues experience that affect their ability to work?
The symptoms listed above may be indicative of a mental health condition that could affect someone’s ability to work. Some of these symptoms can cause decreased performance or absenteeism.
Q. Should I disclose my mental health issue to my employer? If so, what documentation do I need to provide?
Disclosure of a mental health disorder is not necessary. However, if you are asking your employer for accommodations, you may require a letter from a health professional outlining what is required.
Q. What are some typical accommodations that a person with mental health concerns can ask for from their employers?
If work becomes overwhelming, employees can ask for a decrease in the volume of tasks to a manageable level, at least temporarily. Or space tasks out over a longer period of time to be worked out between the employee and their immediate supervisor. An employee may also require a quiet place to work as well as having regular breaks.
However, any accommodation recommended must not bring an undue hardship, i.e. the accommodation must not place an unreasonable burden on the employer or other employees. What constitutes undue hardship will vary in each case depending on the nature of the workplace and the employee’s role within it.
Q. Do I need a note from my doctor or psychologist in order to take time off work for reasons regarding mental health?
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, approximately 500,000 Canadians, in any given week, are unable to work due to mental health problems. If you have sick days available, it’s better to take them than to try and push through when you are not feeling well. If your mental health care requires more time off, the Canada Labor Congress recommends you talk to your Human Resources department and find out what sick time or short-term disability leave is available to you. You will likely need a doctor’s note if you have to take a longer time off work, but it will depend on your employer’s policies.
Q. Can I claim any medications or therapy treatments on my employee benefits?
That depends on your particular employer and the employee benefits plan they offer. To find out what is covered by your employee benefits, speak with your manager or Human Resources department.
Q. If I am struggling with feelings of anxiety, stress or depression that are affecting my performance in the workplace, what do I do?
Mental health matters. Speak with your doctor, a psychiatrist or a psychologist about your symptoms and treatment options. A physician may prescribe medication and both a physician and a psychologist can recommend counselling, psychotherapy, or accommodations at work. Don’t suffer in silence.Read More
I Am More Than...
At the 72nd Annual General Meeting of JVS Toronto on September 25, we shared how complexity of needs is a growing trend among the individuals we are seeing throughout our employment centres and across our programs.
In this year’s annual report, our theme is: “I am more than”.
- I am more than the neighbourhood I come from.
- I am more than someone who didn’t finish high school.
- I am more than my disability.
- I am more than a newcomer to Canada.
- I am more than an older worker.
This theme reflects the fact that when individuals come to us looking for help on their journey to employment, there is often more to their story than what we see on the surface. Individuals are juggling an array of personal circumstances, many of which are complex. We need to recognize that when they come through our doors they are more than just a person looking for work.
JVS Toronto is a multi service organization offering services to many client populations. While their stories and circumstances may be different, for all of these populations, there is usually more complexity to their situations than we see right away.
At JVS Toronto, our vision is that every individual has opportunities for employment. We can’t achieve this vision alone. We rely on the support of donors, government, funders, employers and community partners to create and deliver specialized programs and services that address the unique and complex needs of the clients we serve.Read More
Recognizing client success, and the contributions of volunteers and employers, has been a staple each year at JVS Toronto’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). On September 25, JVS Toronto presented its AGM Awards to six very deserving recipients.
“Our award winners all have one thing in common,” said Jonathan Kopman, Board of Directors Chair, when introducing the 2019 awards presentation, “they made a commitment to use our services. Whether they are a client or a volunteer, we honoured them for making that commitment to better their lives and the lives of others.”
Congratulations to our 2019 AGM Award winners.
Louis Mensah – Freedman Family Award for Young Entrepreneurs
This award recognizes a young entrepreneur who has completed one of JVS Toronto’s youth entrepreneurship programs, and successfully operating a full-time or a part-time basis business.
Louis began the Youth Entrepreneurship Program when he was in the early stages of developing his photography business, Mensah Memories. Prior to the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Louis had a passion for film and photography, but he could not afford the very expensive equipment required to launch his own business.
After receiving funding from the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Louis was able to purchase his own photography gear to start his business. Louis was never afraid to do the work that was necessary to achieve his goals, and he worked tirelessly to break into an industry that is very tough to crack. In the first few months of launching Mensah Memories, Louis’s client list included professional athletes, entertainers, and large corporations. Louis epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit with a can-do attitude, and proves that hard work can go a long way.
Agency founder, Max Enkin, was part of a group of Jewish business leaders who started the agency in 1947 to provide employment and vocational services to Holocaust survivors and veterans of the Second World War. Between 1948 and 1949, he was also involved in bringing Jewish Holocaust survivors to Canada from Europe after the war as part of the Garment Workers Scheme, now known as The Tailor Project.
Read more here about The Tailor Project.
Recently, during Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah; JVS Toronto attended A Common Thread: Celebrating the Untold Stories of The Tailor Project at Holy Blossom Temple. The event honoured Max Enkin and others who were instrumental in bringing Jewish people to Canada from the deportation camps after World War II as part of The Tailor Project.
The success of this event and importance of The Tailor Project lead event participants, Larry Enkin (Max’s son) and Paul Klein, CEO and Founder of Impakt, to receive an invitation to appear on an episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Larry Enkin and Paul Klein included Kim Coulter, President and CEO of JVS Toronto, in the interview to provide the perspective of connecting immigrants to jobs in Canada, then and now, to ensure they can lead self-sufficient, meaningful lives.
Watch us on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Untold Stories of The Tailor Project.
Watch the trailer of The Tailor Project documentary.Read More
Join us in the fight against unemployment.
JVS Toronto is participating in Canada Helps' 5th Annual Great Canadian Giving Challenge; a national contest that benefits registered Canadian charities at a time when charitable giving is at its lowest.
For every $1 donated* by June 30, 2019, we will receive one ballot in a draw to win $10,000. More donations mean more chances to win!
Help us set a new record for the most donations received in the month of June!
With $10,000, we can:
- Help unemployed individuals move toward financial stability;
- Link at-risk youth to education, life skills and on-the-job training;
- Offer specialized employment programs for individuals with disabilities at no cost;
- Connect new immigrants to professional mentors, Canadian workplace language training, and online service delivery; and
- Subsidize low-income families for assessments that diagnose learning and other disabilities to improve school performance.
Giving is easy.
Step 1: Click on the Donate button
Step 2: Complete the online donation form
Step 3: Share our message on social media and invite your family and friends to join our fight against unemployment.
* Minimum $3 donation required.
JVS Toronto is accredited under Imagine Canada’s national Standards Program.
With this achievement, we join a growing community of organizations dedicated to operational excellence.
The Standards Program Trademark is used under licence by JVS Toronto.Read More
As Canadians, we are fortunate enough to live freely, but for many families living outside of Canada, political and economic instability threaten their traditions. Alper, a father of two, came to JVS Toronto for support when it became too dangerous to live as a Jewish family in Turkey. Alper feared for his family’s safety, and wanted his children to grow up in a better place. With no personal or professional connections and leaving his own business behind, Alper was overwhelmed by the prospect of job searching, and the risks he was taking to immigrate to Canada.
A referral to JVS Toronto’s EMETemployment program made the prospect of a better future for Alper and his family seem possible.
A New Future in Canada
Alper was inspired by the support offered through EMETemployment, JVS Toronto's Jewish Community employment program that works with employers and job seekers to provide online job postings, professional recruitment, and job support services. His Employment Counsellor helped him prepare his resume, and found positions tailored to his strengths and employment history. Alper is now happily employed, and excited about his future in Canada with his family:
|“I am so thankful for my counsellors and everyone that helped me. It’s really emotional for me and I am so happy to be here in Canada with my family, and be a part of a Jewish community where it is safe and peaceful.”|
Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, EMETemployment helps individuals like Alper, build self-sufficiency and provide a safe and secure life for their families. Your support helps JVS Toronto provide critical support and services to ensure Toronto’s Jewish Community can thrive.
The Standards Program Trademark is used under licence by JVS Toronto.Read More
On January 16, 2019, we were delighted to welcome Michael Levitt, Member of Parliament for the riding of York Centre in Toronto, to our Toronto North location to announce the federal government’s continuing commitment to the delivery of pre-arrival services for internationally trained professionals.
Over the past three years, thanks to funding from Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC), JVS Toronto’s Canada Infonet (formerly called CanPrep) program has supported over 4,000 individuals prior to their arrival in Canada. Working closely with partners across Canada this program provides on-line employment and mentoring services, as well as access to post arrival support to ensure seamless economic integration for internationally trained professionals.
Our Canada Infonet program works closely with partners including Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Network (TRIEC), OMETZ in Montreal, Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO), Magnet, and the Ontario Tourism Employment Council (OTEC). We have also built a strong network of post-arrival partnerships across Canada with service providers and employers to ensure seamless, supported economic integration.
In his speech, MP Michael Levitt announced IRCC’s multi-year commitment of $4 million to JVS Toronto over five years to continue the delivery of pre-arrival services for newcomers to Canada. He began by saying, “If we didn’t have immigrants, employers would have trouble finding enough workers to fill available jobs. And as consumers, immigrants help to create more demand for small businesses in our communities, further strengthening our local economy.”
He went on to say that, “JVS Toronto is one of three organizations that will provide general employment services to immigrants before they arrive, like mentoring, online learning modules and other employment-related supports in both English and French.”
We are pleased to maintain our working relationship with IRCC and for their continuing commitment to pre-arrival services so newcomers gain knowledge about life in Canada and the job market, and for putting their trust in JVS Toronto as a service provider partner.
We were honoured to have MP Michael Levitt make this announcement, for his leadership in York Centre and acknowledge his commitment to his constituents, many of whom we serve at our Toronto North location.
Congratulations to our Canada Infonet program team – Irene Vaksman, Sharvari Jois, Farah Alizadehahi, Rahim Braksa, Anne Hu, Marlina Ramchandran, Lucy Sun and Iliana Tzekova – for their dedication to JVS Toronto and in welcoming immigrants to Canada every day.Read More
Recognizing client success, and the contributions of volunteers and employers, has been a staple each year at JVS Toronto’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). On October 3, 2018, JVS Toronto presented its AGM Awards to five very deserving recipients.
“Our award winners all have one thing in common,” said Jeff Goldfarb, Board of Directors Immediate Past Chair when introducing the 2018 awards presentation, “they put their trust into JVS Toronto. Whether a client or employer committed to using our services, or a volunteer willing to contribute their time, I thank each of you for instilling your trust in us.”
Congratulations to our 2018 AGM Award winners.
Bianca Johnson – Freedman Family Award for Young Entrepreneurs
This award recognizes a young entrepreneur who has completed one of JVS Toronto’s youth entrepreneurship programs, and successfully operating a full-time or a part-time basis business.
Bianca, a young entrepreneur and mother of two young children gained knowledge from JVS Toronto’s Summer Company program to start a business called Spike it Up offering alcohol-infused desserts. Challenged the rules and regulations to prepare her desserts in a commercial kitchen, Bianca rented time in a local commercial kitchen shuttling her equipment and ingredients to and from this kitchen every time she baked her stock. Undaunted, Bianca’s passion and hard work steadily grew Spike It Up. She recently opened her first retail location in Scarborough and arranged order delivery through UberEats and Skip the Dishes.
Dedicated friend and supporter
Barrie Rose, who served as Chair of the Board from 1967 to 1969 and later as an Honorary Director, passed away on July 15, 2018.
Over 50 years ago, thanks to a generous grant from Barrie, founded JVS Toronto’s Jewish Day School program in the Eitz Chaim Schools. His transformational gift led to the integration of JVS Toronto’s psychoeducational consultants into the Jewish Day Schools, who work daily with teachers and parents to identify issues, assess, diagnose and establish educational plans so students of all abilities can continue their Jewish and academic education. Today, through our Career, Education and Psychology Division at JVS Toronto, Barrie’s legacy continues to ensure that individuals of all abilities and income levels can access assessments to improve their success at school and work.
On behalf of the Board, staff and the entire JVS Toronto community, I express our appreciation to Barrie for his years of service to JVS Toronto, and acknowledge the important contributions he made to the Agency and throughout our community as a true philanthropic spirit. We extend our deepest sympathy to Barrie’s entire family.Read More
On October 18, 2017, JVS Toronto’s head office at 74 Tycos Drive showcased the newly renovated and relocated Al Green Resource Centre to dignitaries and longtime supporters of initiatives that connect individuals with disabilities with the greater community.
“Our Al Green Resource Centre is a true testament to the commitment of many donors and funders in providing opportunities for inclusion so individuals with disabilities can lead purposeful and fulfilled lives,” said Kim Coulter, President & CEO of JVS Toronto in her opening remarks to over 90 guests and dignitaries who attended the grand opening.
Opened in 2003 on Dufferin Street through the generosity of Al Green and his wife Malka Green, and David Green, his wife Daphne Wagner and their family, the Al Green Resource Centre has served as a lifeline and a critical source of meaningful activities for its participants with developmental disabilities to promote independence.Read More
Recognizing client success, and the contributions of volunteers and employers, has been a staple each year at JVS Toronto’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). On September 13, the JVS 2017 Toronto AGM Awards were presented to five very deserving recipients.
“Our award winners all have one thing in common,” said Jeff Goldfarb, Board of Directors Chair when introducing the 2017 awards presentation, “they put their trust into JVS Toronto. Whether a client or employer committed to using our services, or a volunteer willing to contribute their time, I thank each of you for instilling your trust in us.”
Congratulations to our 2017 AGM Award winners.
Talar Karageozian – Joseph Skolnik Award for New Canadians
This award is given to a JVS Toronto newcomer client who has successfully integrated into Canadian society.
Talar arrived to Canada with her family as a refugee after fleeing the horrors of Aleppo, Syria. An accountant in Syria, Talar thought her work experience would easily help her get a job. Not gaining any interviews, Talar’s optimism soon wore off. By accessing specialized newcomer employment programs at JVS Toronto, Talar improved her English, and learned Canadian and financial services terminology. After attending various workshops, Talar was able to optimize her job search to accounting firms. She secured a full-time financial services position and is now pursuing her professional designation in accounting.
Manny Mitchell, long-time friend and great supporter of JVS Toronto, passed away on February 10, 2017. Those who met and knew him were always inspired by Manny’s generous nature and commitment to supporting organizations that impact the most vulnerable in our community.
In 1996 Manny joined JVS Toronto’s Board of Directors and soon his contributions were helping to transform the agency.
Knowing the importance of demonstrating community support through volunteerism and charitable donations, Manny was instrumental in establishing JVS Toronto’s volunteer-led fundraising program. In 2000, he helped launch JVS Toronto’s first direct mail campaign and set JVS Toronto on the course of a more formal and coordinated approach to philanthropy.
By 2003, he actively developed and initiated as co-chair the agency’s signature fundraising event, Strictly Business; an annual awareness-building luncheon that continued for 12 years.Read More
It was announced at JVS Toronto’s 70th Annual General Meeting on September 13, 2017, that XBASE Technologies Inc. is the official sponsor of the agency’s 70th anniversary events.
JVS Toronto turned 70 on June 16, 2017 and will be highlighting this milestone throughout the year. XBASE's Robin Chow, Founder and President, and Stuart Demeter, Managing Partner were both in attendance for a formal cheque presentation.
XBASE’s contributions to JVS Toronto, both as the agency’s IT managed services supplier and as a loyal and long-time supporter, have significantly impacted our delivery of services over the last number of years.
“On a daily basis, we see first-hand how dedicated the staff across all locations are, and how committed they are to ensuring client needs are met,” said Robin Chow,“We partner with JVS Toronto on a daily basis and are delighted to support the agency’s important work as anniversary sponsor. Congratulations on 70 years of remarkable work in the community.”
Sewing a button hole was a lifeline to renewal and optimism in Canada for Holocaust survivors after World War II, and the spark that ignited the creation of JVS Toronto. On June 16, 2017, JVS Toronto celebrated 70 years serving the Jewish and greater community. Our roots and history – told below by former Board of Director Chairs who helped shape it – weave together a story of giving hope and building self-sufficiency by helping people facing restrictive hurdles in life gain employment.
Starting a seven decade journey
In post-war Europe, Holocaust survivors living in Displaced Persons Camps (DP Camps) waited for admittance into any country that would take them. Max Enkin was one of the businessmen instrumental in The Tailor Project that identified those in DP Camps as tailors if they could sew a button hole. As a result, 2,000 Jewish garment industry workers came to Canada in 1947.
This experience lead Max Enkin to establish Jewish Vocational Service of Metropolitan Toronto, now called JVS Toronto, to support Jewish immigrants, Holocaust survivors, and members of the Jewish community facing anti-Semitic hiring practices.
"I met one of the tailors who came through that program. When he saw my father, he recognized him as selecting him from a DP Camp. My father said, ‘Most who came here weren’t tailors. Why are you still in the industry?’ He replied, ‘Mr. Enkin, I was a tailor.’"
Larry Enkin, Son of JVS Toronto Founder, Max Enkin
- JVS Toronto opens its doors on June 16, 1947 at 455 Spadina Avenue, fittingly in the Tip Top Tailor Building
- $7,314 from the Jewish Welfare Fund of Toronto funds the agency
- Founder Max Enkins becomes first Board of Directors Chair
- Vocational counselling and job placement services are provided to newcomer clients
- Agency becomes a member of what is now the United Way Toronto & York Region
Susan Fremes receives UJA Shem Tov Award
On June 7, 2017, Susan Fremes, Immediate Past Chair of JVS Toronto’s Board of Directors received the UJA Shem Tov Award that recognizes the highest levels of excellence in volunteer services in Toronto’s Jewish community.
A lawyer by profession with expertise in employment law, governance structures and designing and funding of pension and benefits arrangements, Susan has dedicated the last 10 years to JVS Toronto lending her skills and knowledge on a variety of Board committees, and as the Board Chair in 2014 – 2016. During her term as Board Chair, Susan led a Board matching fundraising campaign raising $100,000 over two months.
As a JVS Toronto ambassador, Susan participated in UJA Federation’s Social Planning Forum and their prestigious Joshua Institute, a program focusing on Jewish leadership and governance. Susan’s activity in Toronto’s Jewish community also includes volunteer leadership roles at JIAS Toronto, Beth Tzedec Synagogue and Baycrest.
JVS Toronto is proud to continue to have Susan’s support and passion to further JVS Toronto’s vision and mission and the values based on our Jewish heritage.
Ontario Volunteer Services Award Recipients
At a reception on June 5, 2017, the Honourable Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration presented the 2017 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards to five longstanding JVS Toronto Board and Board committee volunteers.
Sandy Brown: 30 years of service. Past Board Chair 1986-1988. Career, Education, & Psychology Committee Current Member.
Peter Shenfield: 20 years of service. Past Board Chair 1994-1996. Nominating Committee Past Member. Strategic Operational Review Past Member. Career, Education, & Psychology Committee Past Member.
Jonathan Kopman: 10 years of service. Past Board member. Finance Committee Current Member. Fundraising Committee Current Member. Investment Committee Past Chair.
Jacqueline Irvine: 5 years of service. Current Board Vice-Chair. Executive Committee Current Member. Governance Committees Current Member. Strategic Operational Review Past Member.
Elaine Pantel: 5 years of service. Former Board Treasurer. Finance Committee Current Member. Executive Committee Past Member.
This service award recognizes the important contributions that volunteers make in building a strong, inclusive and caring community. For 70 years, JVS Toronto has been shaped through the involvement of volunteers in Board governance, fundraising, connections to resources and spreading the word about the agency’s services and expertise.Read More