Two Jewish schoolgirls who raised almost £1,500 for mental health charity JAMI at an awareness-raising event this Sunday have said schools still need to do more to tackle the stigma around it.
JCoSS students Ella Garai-Ebner and Emily Newman, both 17, ended up tripling their £500 fundraising target as dozens more people turned up to their event at Alyth Synagogue than they anticipated.
Despite the cancellation of guest speaker Jonny Benjamin, a Jewish mental health campaigner who was hospitalised hours before he was due to speak, the girls ploughed on and said at the end: “Hopefully we inspired others to do more.”
On mental health awareness, Ella said: “We think it’s an issue that’s so relevant to so many people’s lives and that it’s not talked about enough. We both know people who have suffered, everyone does.”
Both Ella and Emily agreed that while the stigma had lessened in recent year, there was still more to do.
“Mental health as a whole just isn’t discussed at all,” said Emily, revealing that it was still something kids laughed about. “It’s not like breaking a leg. If you have a mental health issue you’re seen as an outcast or a bit strange.”
The girls, who are aiming to go to university in September next year, said that while their school had taken action – with talks by JAMI and a visiting counsellor – there was still more that could and should be done.
“In school you have sex-education but nothing about mental health,” said Emily. “More can be done to educate children of a younger age and get them talking about it. There is still more to do.”
JAMI fundraiser Emma Nagli said the charity was “working to transform the mental health landscape” and that the girls had “played a vital role in helping to make mental health awareness more accessible, all whilst raising the much-needed funds to ensure we are able to achieve our aims”.