JLC CEO Simon Johnson writes about Jami's Mental Health Awareness Shabbat this week.
This article first appeared in the Jewish Telegraph 4/01/19
Jami's Head On Shabbat
For this first column of 2019, I want to look ahead to next Shabbos, Parshas Bo, on 12th January 2019, which is Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, promoted by our member organisation, JAMI. It has the working title of “Head On” and, as in previous years, it will hope to make congregants in the hundreds of shuls, which are participating, more aware of issues of Mental wellbeing.
It seems that 2018 was dominated by stories about antisemitism in politics. Certainly, that was the major theme of my columns in 2018.
But, whilst all those issues were being dealt with, the overall work of the JLC continued, but perhaps without any similar fanfare.
The subject of mental wellbeing, especially among young people has been a major thread of the JLC’s work with our members in 2018. We have tried to make this a priority for our work.
Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension.
The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows.
Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience.
Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society.
Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.
It is this belief in wellbeing, resilience and prevention, which has lain behind much of the work that we and our members have focussed on through the year.