The Mental Health Awareness Shabbat (MHAS), launched by Jami in 2017, aims to raise the profile of mental health in the Jewish Community.
The MHAS falls annually on Shabbat “Bo”, the weekly Torah portion which tells about the Plague of Darkness, which has resonance with mental illness.
This year’s theme was The Impact of the Pandemic. Living through the ongoing pandemic has affected all our mental health, and this special Shabbat was an opportunity for the entire community to focus on and raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
Save the date for next year’s Mental Health Awareness Shabbat:
7 – 8 January 2022
A message from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
1 Minute for Mental Health – Hollie Geey
1 Minute for Mental Health – Ashley Lerner
Dr Ellie Cannon & Samantha Simmonds in conversation
Cake is my Super Power with Ilana Epstein
Zaki Cooper in conversation with Monty Panesar
Examples of past MHAS projects:
Edgware United Synagogue held a talk entitled “Is there such a thing as Jewish Counselling?” with Sara Cooper, Head of Clinical Services at Raphael Jewish Counselling and a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist with 30 years of experience working with clients as well as teaching and supervising counsellors and therapists.
Hampstead Synagogue Dennington Park United held a talk presented by one of their congregants who is a psychotherapist specialising in supporting people in distress.
A cross communal event was held at The Shrubberies in Manchester, in association with Stenecourt, Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation, The WHC and Holy Law South Broughton Congregation with Ivan Lewis MP, entitled “My Battle With Depression” followed by a panel discussion with Estelle Gillis, Mental Health Occupational Therapist at Neshomo, Dr Emma Santhouse, Chartered Clinicial Psychologist and Dr Jeff Schryer, GP and Chair of Bury NHS Clinical Commissioning Group. Chaired by Dr Paul Abeles, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Kol Chai Reform Synagogue held a brunch with a panel discussion featuring representatives from the Harrow Samaritans and the OLLIE Foundation (One Life Lost is Enough) and from the Harrow Citizens Mental Health Action Team. They discussed current issues affecting society’s mental health and what their organisations are doing, followed by a Q & A.
St Albans United Synagogue Screened the movie Screenagers which focuses on the subject of social media and tech time and the impact this has on kids development as well as holding a panel discussion with the heads of Yavneh and JFS as well as the CEO of Jewish Interactive and a family and child / adolescent psychotherapist.
Alyth North Western Reform’s Head of Community Care and Life Cycle gave a Mental Health Awareness Sermon.
Clore Tikva Primary School held a presentation at their assembly to introduce the Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, created a special display in their hall and took part in activities from the Mental Health Awareness Shabbat Youth Pack.
Central Square Minyan Orthodox Synagogue’s community were addressed by Rabbi Rafi Zarum along with a programme of professional speakers discussing mental health issues across the lifecycle from infancy through childhood, adulthood and old age including Prof Gill Livingston Professor of Psychiatry of older people at University College London, Dr Michael Peters Head of British Medical Association Wellbeing Support Services, Angela Hodes Barrister specialising in the Court of Protection and Assistant Coroner of London Inner West, Ann Peters Health Visitor and Registered Nurse qualified in obstetrics, Emma Gershon Head of Pastoral Care for year 8 at St Mary and St Johns school in Hendon, Debby Lipkin consultant headteacher of JFS, Dr Irene Sclare Consultant Clinical Psychologist at South London and Maudesley NHS Foundation Trust and Helen Bender Consultant Psychotherapist.