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Former Medway Residents Launch Sibling Support Group The Giovangelo family launches mental health support group for youth ages 9 to 13

Jan 29, 2021 01:07PM ● By Theresa Knapp

Former Medway residents Judy Giovangelo and Michael Giovangelo have launched the “Survive to Thrive” Sibling Support Group as part of the Ben Speaks nonprofit organization. The support group aims to help Massachusetts youth ages 9 to 13 who have siblings struggling with mental health and behavioral issues. 

Judy Giovangelo founded Ben Speaks just five months after losing her son Ben to suicide in 2009. Michael Giovangelo is the brother of Ben and president of the organization now based in Holliston.

“We are greatly aware through our life experience in the raising of three children, one with mental and emotional health challenges that we lost to suicide, the collateral impact on the siblings in the home. This is an unmet need in our world today, one we are grateful to fill,” say the Giovangelos. 

The first offering of the free 10-week virtual program started in January and quickly filled to capacity. 

Siblings of family members with mental health needs may experience challenges and disruptions to their own emotional growth and development, especially as mental health cases continue to rise in relation to the pandemic. 

For tips on how to recognize signs of stress in your child, or to assess how your child is coping with COVID-19, visit Healthchildren.org 

If you or a loved one is feeling depressed, hopeless or suicidal, call or text the Samaritans Help Line at 877-870-4673 anytime 24/7, the service is free, confidential and anonymous. Samaritanshope.org also offers grief support services plus community, education and outreach services. 

The Ben Speaks “Survive to Thrive” support group hopes to provide youth with a nurturing environment in which they can share their unique experiences, engage in empowering and fun expressive activities, and develop their own skills and resources, so they can thrive while facing the challenges they and their families encounter. 

The program includes group sessions with opportunities for both open and themed discussions, expressive art activities, age-appropriate learning about mental health challenges and their impacts on families, and empowerment skills to enhance emotion regulation and effective communication. The series is facilitated by members of the Ben Speaks Board of Directors, Bretton Torkelson, Psy.D., Judy Giovangelo, Michael Giovangelo, and Penny Young. 

For more information on the organization, visit www.benspeaks.org and follow them on Facebook @ben.speaks 


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