Today is World Mental Health Day. This year the day falls at a time when the Jewish community is being challenged to a degree that none of us could have imagined.
The news from Israel touches us deeply. Many of us have family and friends who are directly impacted by the terror that has been unleashed. But this crisis runs deeply for us all, whether we have been closely affected; whether we have been consuming newsfeed obsessively; or whether we have been talking to friends, partners or colleagues about what this news means to us as Jews today. Many of us may feel as if we have been personally assaulted. We may feel the level of shock, horror and grief that the international Jewish community is together attempting to digest, understand and live with.
Some of us may have been at the vigil yesterday, held just a few footsteps away from Downing Street where thousands gathered. We listened to politicians from both sides of the House, including Security Minister Tom Tugendhat, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davy and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, pledging their support for the Jewish community, and our own spiritual leaders, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis and Rabbi Charley Baginsky Liberal Judaism CEO, offering us comfort and words of unity in this dark moment.
However we feel about the political complexity of the region, it seems the community is coming together across boundaries of religious denominations, party politics and age (both young and old) to stand together to offer each other support at this time of sorrow. Those of us living with mental illness and distress may be finding this time particularly challenging. We may find our symptoms intensify and/or our behaviours become introspective as we become nervous to go out to synagogue, kosher restaurants and other community hubs. Let us try to offer those we know, who may be beginning to feel these pressures and uncertainties, extra care at this time. That call you have been intending to make, make it now. That friendly text, send it today. This is a time for us to cherish each other and to offer compassion and gentle care. It is a time when those of us going through a tough time with our mental health may feel this extra stress and discomfort.
Jami’s message to the community is to connect and care for each other and be particularly mindful of the day-to-day experiences of those of us going through mental illness and distress.
We sang Hatikva at Westminster and Am Yisrael Chai. Let’s come together and not forget those of us who may be isolated and in greatest need of comfort and support.
Our team are busy reaching out to Jami’s service users to ensure those who need additional support at this time get the help they need. If you are a communal leader and need advice on how to identify and best support those in your community who are struggling with mental health difficulties, please email email@example.com
Our online Peer Support Group is available on Fridays from 2-3pm for anyone who would like to join and speak about how they’re feeling. You can find the details and join the group via this link.
You may also find the following helpful: Coping with International Crises – Grief Encounter