Reform Judaism is devoted to being an inclusive and supportive community, and to fostering mental health and wellbeing for all. To this end, a Youth Wellbeing Training course has been developed to explore the relationship between mental health and wellbeing in a Jewish youth environment, with a focus on the camp setting. The course provides advice and suggestions on age-appropriate activities to raise awareness and combat the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses. Recently, a new resource was launched to promote better wellbeing and mental health within the Jewish community.
The English National Health Service (NHS) has significantly expanded the offer of evidence-based psychological interventions in primary care for people with common mental health problems. However, despite additional resources, the accessibility of services for “underserved” ethnic and religious minority groups is considerably lower than necessary to compensate for the health inequalities created by their different exposure to services, resulting in negative health outcomes. This article reflects on an initiative that sought to improve access to a primary care mental health service funded by the NHS for an “underserved” population: an Orthodox Jewish community in the North West of England. Before the development of the Eis Ledader project, the Orthodox Jewish community in Salford had very little history of using the IAPT service. It was also evident that how interventions were discussed was an important factor in the area of controversy over what culturally consistent forms of care could be used legitimately to try to support the well-being of community members who had mental health problems. The initiative is supported by the London Jewish Forum, Jami, Maccabi GB and the London district of Barnet.
It is presented through a series of animations and videos, as well as a physical brochure based on teachings, including those of the late Rabbi Lord Sacks. Enabling the community to maintain its independent existence and protect its cultural customs while also opening up access to mental health resources from which it could benefit was a special challenge for all stakeholders. Over a long period (3 years), a thinly distributed network of independent relationships developed between a distributed management team that dealt with primary care, organizations of the Jewish community, social enterprises and the NHS and local authorities. Easy access to Jewish News on London streets also means that it offers an invaluable window into the community for the country at large. For example, Six Degrees Social Enterprise, as a provider of mental health services, initially tried to work directly with primary care physicians in the Orthodox community but struggled to overcome their reluctance to refer their patients to the IAPT service. The project was developed by a local third sector organization, Six Degrees Social Enterprise, with representatives from Orthodox Jewish and Haredic community organizations, primary care, the NHS and local authorities.
It was a clear signal to the community that the service provider respected its otherness in a way that was consistent with its cultural identity, strengths and traditions. The project has been successful in providing access to mental health services for members of this underserved population. The project has also been successful in raising awareness about mental health issues within this population. This has been achieved through various initiatives such as providing educational materials about mental health issues in both English and Hebrew languages; providing training sessions for professionals working with this population; and providing support groups for those affected by mental health issues. The project has also been successful in engaging members of this population who may not have otherwise sought out help or support due to cultural or religious barriers.
This has been achieved through various initiatives such as providing culturally sensitive services; engaging religious leaders in discussions about mental health; and providing support groups for those affected by mental health issues. Thank you for helping make Jewish News the main source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. For service providers and other community stakeholders who initiated and maintained dialogue, it was sometimes frustrating and disconcerting as they sought to understand how inter-community politics influenced a community that is not restricted to local geographical neighborhoods or internally homogeneous.