The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, will bring together Jewish organizations, synagogues, and communities in May to raise awareness and educate the community on the impact of mental and emotional health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States.
The OU, along with its partners in this initiative – Yeshiva University, the Rabbinical Council of America, Shalom Task Force, National Council of Young Israel, RELIEF, the Digital Citizenship Project, Chai Lifeline, Our Path (a project of Amudim), and other partners to be announced – will offer many crucial resources which can be used by communities and individuals. These resources include a one-page resource for parents to talk with their children about mental health, resources from Shalom Task Force about domestic abuse, which will focus on identifying the signs and how to get help, and a “Go Dark During Dinner” campaign, where families put away all technology during dinner. Additionally, noted lecturers Dr. David Pelcovitz and Dr. Rona Novick of Yeshiva University will answer questions on the topic of mental health in today’s age for adults and children respectively.
The OU is also asking synagogues, families, and individuals to dedicate the Shabbos of this May 7-8 toward learning and discussing the issues of mental and emotional health in our communities. The goal is to help bring these issues out of the shadows and into the fore, and to continue to make the community more understanding and supportive of those going through these challenges.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on communal mental health. As life and routine begin to get back to normal, it is crucial that we are attuned to this critical area of our own wellness and that we are sensitive to the challenges faced by others,” said Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer. “It is very important to us to bring together communal mental health resources to raise awareness and sensitivity and to provide education to help address the challenges faced by so many.”
“We have the ability to change the course on how mental health is viewed and have a responsibility to take a leadership role in helping individuals and families cope with these challenges,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “It is our hope that, by the OU and its partner organizations addressing these issues, we can teach or remind an untold number of our Jewish community members the importance of seeking help when dealing with life’s emotional stresses.”
For more information or to access mental health resources, please visit www.ou.org/mentalhealth.