A Jewish charity in the UK has said last week’s third annual Head On: Mental Health Awareness Shabbat is “just the start of the discussion in the Jewish community”.
JAMI, which held the event last weekend, said it was deliberately timed to coincide with the week of Parashat Bo, which tells of the Plague of Darkness – “a suitable launch pad for discussions on the nature of mental health”.
The charity is one of several Jewish organisations aiming to highlight concerns and “remove the stigma” around mental health problems, as the true extent of the issue becomes clear nationwide. Political leaders have realised that mental health has taken a back-seat to physical health and aimed to reallocate resources accordingly.
More than 120 individuals, synagogues and organisations led activities last week, with clinician-led discussions and sermons about the importance of mental wellbeing.
“Most brave were the people who stood up in their communities for the first time to share the impact of mental ill health on their own lives, including two of our own JAMI Ambassadors,” said the charity.
At Edgware United, Sara Cooper discussed the idea of “Jewish counselling” while psychotherapist David Brodtman spoke to the Hampstead Dennington Park Community and Kol Chai Reform held a panel discussion. Elsewhere, schools including Clore Tikva Primary School ran special assemblies.
“I’m sure people learnt a lot about mental health,” said one Pinner shul member. “It is just the start of discussions for our community and it’s got us all talking and thinking”.