An open letter
Addressing the Jewish community’s mental health challenge
Research reveals over half of under-25-year-olds are living with mental illness
Jewish doctors call on community to back Jami
The huge number of Jewish people living with mental illness has sparked a call to action by over 50 eminent Jewish psychiatrists and other doctors for the community to lend its support to Jewish mental health charity Jami.
Recently released data from the Institute of Jewish Policy Research highlights that 26% of the Jewish community are living with mental illness, distress or trauma, with these difficulties affecting 55.5% of under 25s.
In response to these stark statistics, Jewish psychiatrists and other doctors have come together to sign an open letter, calling on the community to take action by supporting Jami. Their letter states: “Investing in supporting mental health isn’t a luxury. If we are to consider ourselves a kind and just community, it’s a must.”
Jami currently supports over 1,650 people in the Jewish community whose mental illness and distress makes everyday life a struggle. Adam and his wife, Amy, are just two of them. Adam says:
“It’s important that you don’t have to go outside the Jewish community to get that support. I don’t know how I or my family would have survived without Jami.”
Given what doctors co-signing the letter label “a significant increase in the scale and gravity of mental illness and distress” within the Jewish community, Jami says there are many more people who could benefit from its support. In response, Jami is aiming to maintain adult services at their record high and grow its Children and Young Person’s service, which provides in-school support at JFS and JCoSS, as well as in the wider community.
As one of the signatories of the open letter, Dr Abigail Swerdlow, psychiatrist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Jami trustee, says:
“I and many of my peers in the Jewish community felt compelled to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental illness and distress among Jewish young people and adults. Many of us are aware that our mental health services are struggling with the increasing demand and complexity. However, it is of the utmost importance that help is provided to those who need it, in a timely manner. This is why Jami, and all the support it offers, is an invaluable resource that, as a community, we should feel privileged to have and be eager to support.”
Laurie Rackind, chief executive of Jami, says:
“Covid exacerbated an existing mental health emergency in our community but unlike Covid, there is no vaccine for mental illness and distress. Addressing our community’s mental health challenge will require a long-term, collective effort. We are calling on those who are able to do so, to get behind Jami as generously as possible to ensure we can continue to provide vitally needed services for children, young people and adults.”
Louise Kermode, director of services at Jami, says:
“It is great to see Jewish psychiatrists and other doctors getting behind Jami and the vital work we do in the community. While medical treatment and support are important when it comes to mental illness and distress, Jami’s services have an equally fundamental part to play in supporting people’s needs. This is because Jami provides not only psychological, social and practical support that is so important to each individual’s recovery, but it also offers daily connection with others, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of trust because of its cultural understanding and focus on peer support.”
Co-signatory, Dr Fiona Sim, public health consultant and former Chair of the Royal Society for Public Health, says:
“It’s imperative that access to effective, community-based early intervention services, like Jami, is bolstered significantly and urgently, because the demand for scarce specialist NHS clinical services has become unsustainably high.”
And co-signatory, Dr Amy Jebreel, consultant psychiatrist at Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, says:
“If the problem is an ever-increasing requirement for mental health support in the Jewish community, I wholeheartedly believe that Jami is a primary solution. As a community we must rally behind Jami so that our children, our family, our friends and others impacted by mental health difficulties get the support they need.”
Jami is the Jewish Association for Mental Illness and supports young people and adults whose mental illness and distress makes everyday life a struggle.
Over 1,650 young people and adults currently benefit from Jami’s services, which guide people through their mental health recovery, support families and carers, and educate community leaders to build our collective resilience.
Jami’s support is provided by experts with lived experience and delivered without judgement and with deep empathy.
For more information and for interview requests, please contact Hayley Aaron, PR and Communications Manager, Jami, at email@example.com