A Jewish charity is launching a Mental Health Awareness Shabbat next month, with more than 60 shuls taking part alongside youth groups and student societies.
The Jami initiative, called Head On, will see a range of resources and events, including briefing notes, training sessions and a special sermon relating to mental health, prepared by Rabbi Daniel Epstein of Cockfosters & N Southgate Synagogue.
The charity said it was being held 3-4 February 2017 to coincide with the week of Parashat Bo, which tells of the Plague of Darkness, which they described as “a suitable launch pad for discussions on the nature of mental health”.
Shuls taking part in the inaugural event are drawn from every denomination, organisers said, and they will be joined by school, college and university students for talks, discussions and themed Friday Night dinners, amongst other things.
It follows a community-wide panel discussion on tackling mental illness on 30 January, held at Cockfosters & N Southgate Synagogue, which will address today’s pressure points, such as hectic lifestyles and online bullying.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services have reported a “huge spike” in referrals for self-harm in the last few years, with “no sign of change,” and Jami bosses are hoping to engage parents, teachers, friends and youth workers in the conversation.