[Blog] We must keep talking about mental health

Helen Goldhill
6 February 2017

This weekend saw the start of a brilliant initiative, Mental Health Awareness Shabbat.

More than 60 synagogues and communities, across all denominations, took part. It was coordinated by Jami UK, the mental health service for the Jewish community.

The aim of the Shabbat was to get our community to understand that mental health is something we all have, just as we do physical health, and to disregard it can have catastrophic results.

Working for a youth movement, I can already see the change in our young people. They are growing up in a world where the internet is at their fingertips and they can constantly compare themselves to others.

The importance of talking about mental health is undeniable. The education system has almost scrapped it entirely, failing to address the fact that 50 per cent of mental health problems are established by age 14, and 75 per cent by age 24, according to mentalhealth.org.uk.

Our community is not exempt from this statistic, and so creating an open and comfortable atmosphere to talk about this tabooed subject is a powerful message to our members that mental health should be talked about and that is can be just fatal as physical health.

On LJY-Netzer, since our social action project was Time to Change, we have had mental health and wellbeing education on many of our camps.

We find that equipping our youngest members of society the skills needed to manage all that life throws at them to be a key life skill that schools are not focusing on.

And we must carry that on beyond this Shabbat.

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