Take action with JCJ
End the stigma surrounding mental health and enhance resources for those who are struggling
Join us as we mobilize Jewish communities and pro-democracy people of faith in support of mental health support and resources.
What’s the injustice?
Americans of all ages are increasingly facing mental health challenges. Meanwhile, support is limited.
Throughout U.S. history, horrific practices such as institutionalization, forced sterilization, and physical harm have been inflicted upon those suffering from mental health conditions. Although much progress has been made to destigmatize mental health, many who are suffering continue to lack adequate support.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this already existing issue. While the country has recovered in many ways, Americans are still reeling from lost employment and decreased human interaction. Further, anxiety, stress, and depression rates in adults have risen by 25 percent, and continue to increase.
The pandemic-driven increase in mental health issues have also impacted children. U.S. News reports that child suicide rates have doubled in the past 10 years. According to UCLA Health, almost 20 percent of U.S. high school students have reported serious thoughts of suicide. Eating disorders, anxiety, and depression are also on the rise among kids and teens, according to NAMI.
What we believe
We must support those who are struggling with mental health issues.
At JCJ we believe that mental health is a real and growing crisis among people of all ages. In fact, more than 1 million Jews (about 14 percent) in the United States are affected by mental illness. Fortunately, Jewish values – middot – can help us find ways to best support those in our communities as they manage their mental health struggles.
Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh La Zeh, the principle that all Jews are responsible for one another, comes from the rabbis of the Talmud and reminds us that each of us is inextricably linked to everyone else. These connections are a source of both comfort and responsibility. If you are in need of support, you can find resources here. If you are able to provide support to others, you can volunteer with a hotline and advocate for legislation.
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Connections: Jewish Sources
The Jewish prayer for healing, Mi Shebeirach, includes the phrase refuat hanefesh v’refuat haguf, a healing of spirit and of body. This language reminds us that our mental and emotional well-being are just as worthy of care and attention as our physical health.
“The Gemara continues to address the issue of suffering and affliction: Rabbi Yohanan’s student, Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba, fell ill. Rabbi YoHanan entered to visit him, and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? Do you desire to be ill and afflicted? Rabbi Hiyya said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward, as one who welcomes this suffering with love is rewarded. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Give me your hand. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba gave him his hand, and Rabbi Yohanan stood him up and restored him to health.” – Talmud Berakhot 5b:10
“The Gemara explains another verse in Proverbs: “If there is care in a man’s heart, let him quash it [yashchena]” (Proverbs 12:25). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi dispute the verse’s meaning. One said: He should forcefully push it [yas’chena] out of his mind. One who worries should banish his concerns from his thoughts. And one said: It means he should tell [yesichena] others his concerns, which will lower his anxiety.” – Talmud Yoma 75a:2