Dec 19, 2020

The need for conversations about mental health

mental health
social isolation
Rich Porcelli
3 min
The need for conversations about mental health
Rich Porcelli, Director of Community Engagement at Activate Care, writes about the need for a community-wide approach to mental health...

Mental health screening is an increasingly common practice in doctor’s offices across the country, but how are mental health issues uncovered when we are not seeking medical care? 

COVID-19 has created a monumental increase in mental health issues following months of social isolation, collective community fear, and financial strain. It is also creating an opportunity for a community-led approach to uncovering mental health issues; that is, if we can put aside our fears and stigmas of asking about mental health. 

As a clinical mental health counselor, my training prepared me to meet the needs of individuals experiencing a range of mental health issues. Most non-clinical practitioners in our communities – schools, CBOs, faith-based organizations – have not received that type of specialized training. 

A lack in advanced training in mental health does not mean practitioners aren’t constantly exposed to individuals with mental health issues. It simply means we are choosing to look the other direction. Right now, we need all hands on deck for a community-wide, no wrong door approach supported by coordinated referral networks. 

Here are some proposed actions to get your community started: 

  • Apply a trauma aware perspective to challenge your assumptions. We are living in a moment of collective trauma which compounds levels of toxic stress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Through that lens it is important to remember each of us is complex and bring our past experience into each interaction. How might mental health issues be impacting: 

            - A contract tracer’s ability to reach an individual with anxiety or depression?  

            - An individual’s ability to complete a job benefits claim 

            - A distressed parent from enrolling in school programming 

When we are not aware that an individual is facing mental health issues, we don’t have the full picture. 

  • Know and respect ethical and legal boundaries but don’t be afraid to ask if individuals are in distress. We’ve spent a long time treating individuals who have mental illness as the third rail of health conditions. The truth is that the vast majority of individuals with a mental health diagnosis pose no serious harm to themselves or others. So why should non-clinical partners be afraid of compassionate inquiry? Untrained individuals should never attempt to treat individuals experiencing a mental health issue. But when you are in front of an individual experiencing mental health issues, that individual is still experiencing that issue whether you ask or not. So, why not ask?
  • Be prepared to pass to a qualified mental health professional. This is where a newly formed coordinated care and referral networks in communities can come in handy. If you uncover someone that needs more support, you need to have a qualified professional to pass that individual along to immediately. Find your top referring buddies before you start asking those challenging questions. 
  • Mental Health Providers: be good community educators. Be proactive and help your communities understand how to invite conversations with individuals about their mental health. What words of support do you offer? How do you recognize signs of mental illness? What screening tools can folks use? And most importantly, how can helpers get an individual to a qualified professional to evaluate when needed. Help reduce the fear and stigma associated with asking about mental health. 

As communities, we can do better to increase the conversation about our own collective mental health. Let’s embrace a shared responsibility of meeting the mental health needs of our communities. 

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Jun 17, 2021

Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT

3 min
Erez Yarkoni, Global VP, explains how a three-way partnership between Check Point, HOOPP, and Microsoft is yielding optimum cloud security

Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.

“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.

Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:

  • Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
  • CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
  • Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data


However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”

In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies. 

The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help. 

“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”


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