Where to Turn?
An estimated one-in-five Americans grapple with a mental health disorder each year, and the percentages are not lower in the Orthodox Jewish circles. Mental health disorders grab the headlines but are often treated as a taboo topic in the Devout or pious orthodox Jew. To be frum (Yiddish: פֿרו... More community. This makes it difficult to know where to turn for help and support. Navigating the maze of resources available to the Jewish community is a daunting task, especially for one struggling with mental health.
We’ve prepared a listing of Jewish resources for various mental health struggles to help you and your loved ones on the journey to recovery.
Resources for Addiction in the Jewish Community
“We live in a society that is awash in drug use. Drugs are everywhere—even in Torah institutions . . . . Children from the finest families may use drugs,” Rabbi Dr. A. J. Twerski wrote, back in 2008. Addictive behaviors and substance abuse have only increased since he penned those words; frum communities bury tens of victims of drug overdose each year. Zvi Gluck, the founder of Amudim, is calling for change. He says we need heightened awareness, a community movement towards ending the addiction epidemic, and a firm commitment to helping addicts get to rehab, stay in rehab, graduate rehab, and create lives worth living.
People suffering from addiction cannot recover on their own. Treatment and support are necessary through the entire recovery process and beyond.
Drug and Alchohol Addiction Treatment Centers in the Jewish Community
Treatment for addiction often begins at an inpatient rehab, where addicts receive intensive therapy, warmth, and support, to bring them to healing. Sometimes, outpatient help is sufficient or is the next step after an inpatient rehab. Many prefer Jewish addiction recovery centers because they are sensitive to the Jewish community’s needs and norms.
Arena Sober Living is an affordable home-like environment located in New York. Men who have just have completed primary residential treatment for substance abuse will find a supportive and recovering community there.
Bamidbar is a ranch located in the gorgeous Colorado forests. Young adults who are seeking self-discovery and healing are treated to outdoor excursions and exposure to the wilderness. The approach combines the values inherent in Judaism with a clinically sophisticated therapeutic model.
This warm and nurturing community, located in New Jersey, is led by top therapists who believe that everyone is capable of recovery from addiction. They provide hope, intensive treatment, and individualized programs to bring healing and independence to every patient.
This Jewish drug rehab and long term program is located in New Jersey. Shalvah facilitates recovery through strong systems of healing and support. Their various treatment programs and stages of treatment ensure that every individual receives the help they need.
The SAFE Foundation’s mission is to counsel addicts and their families and provide effective treatment to all clients. The New York outpatient treatment program is a haven for those struggling with addiction.
Online Resources for Addiction in the Jewish Community
Various websites provide encouragement, resources, and advice – all accessible from the comfort of your home.
Guard Your Eyes provides support and direction for those with sex and pornography addiction. They offer 12-step meetings, online classes, and resources for those who want to find their way out of the grips of addiction.
With the mission of encouraging and supporting alcoholics, chemically dependents, and their friends and family, JACS acts as a resource and information center. They educate the Jewish community and direct JACS towards recovery.
OKclarity Professionals Specializing in Treating Addiction in the Jewish Community
A mental health professional can help one through their struggle with addiction, and offer the guidance they need, as well as providing much-needed support to the loved ones of an addict.
Resources for Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community
Eating disorders are the most deadly of mental illnesses. One study found that 1 in 19 girls in Ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn were diagnosed with an eating disorder. That ratio is 50% higher than in the secular world. Anyone struggling with disordered eating needs professional help in order to heal.
The Renfrew Centers, located in eighteen places throughout the US, are internationally known as leaders and pioneers in eating disorder treatment. They offer their collaborative treatment approach to Jewish women and girls in a separate Jewish treatment program.
Magen Avrohom is an organization dedicated to providing all forms of support to those with eating disorders and their families. They spread awareness in the community, and offer services including referrals, support groups, meal coaching and more.
OKclarity Professionals Specializing in Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community
An eating disorder needs to be professionally treated by a qualified understanding professional and treatment team.
Resources for Mood Disorders in the Jewish Community
Mood disorders include any mental illnesses that bring a severe change in mood; most commonly, depression, postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder. At any given point, about 20% of people are affected by a mood disorder. Although depression is diagnosed in 16% more of the population than bipolar disorder, it’s believed that bipolar is under-reported due to the many manic incidents that go unnoticed or are regarded as insignificant.
One of the most painful aspects of a mood disorder can be the loneliness and isolation one may feel. A support group can provide feelings of acceptance and relate-ability in a safe and understanding environment.
Refaenu’s website provides information and resources to educate the community about mood disorders. They also offer support for those affected by mood disorders. They arrange bi-monthly support groups in New Jersey for men and women with depression or bipolar disorder.
Resources for Postpartum Depression (PPD) in the Jewish Community
Postpartum depression, diagnosed in more than 3 million women each year, is too complex to grapple with in isolation. It doesn’t just pass, as many would like to believe. In addition to professional treatment for the individual, support for the family is essential.
IMA offers comprehensive help to families in Lakewood, New Jersey who are affected by postpartum depression. They provide assistance and support to the mom/mom-to-be and educate the husband, family, and caregivers.
Sparks is dedicated to ensuring that anyone with PPD does not feel alone. Based in New York, they educate the community and spread awareness of postpartum depression. They also offer various services including meals, testing, and support groups for women with postpartum depression – focusing on ensuring everyone in the family unit is well cared for.
OKclarity Professionals Specializing in Depression and PPD in the Jewish Community
OKclarity Professionals Specializing in Bipolar Disorder in the Jewish Community
Resources for Kids at Risk in the Jewish Community
There are many organizations dedicated to helping children at risk through their challenges, and guiding their families through this confusing time.
Support for Families of Youth in Pain
Kesher Nafshi is dedicated to the parents and families of youth in pain. They arrange guidance, support, and chizzuk events for parents of children grappling with life-threatening challenges such as substance abuse and depression in their children.
MASK (Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Kids)
MASK provides services and support to families with a child at risk. They provide helplines, support groups, referrals, and guidance for both the kids at risk and their parents.
This New York-based organization is driven to empower and equip today’s adults to effectively impact the lives of teens. Their services include parent classes, teacher training, a resource helpline, and events for the community.
Because there are so many services offered by various organizations to assist children at risk and their families, knowing where to go – for what and when – presents a challenge in and of itself. Nesivos, located in New Jersey, helps families to identify and gain access to an individualized set of services that best suits them with their unique circumstances.
Avi Fischoff’s twisted parenting method videos have encouraged and inspired parents worldwide. He offers support, guidance, and resources to families with struggling teens.
Help and Support for Kids at Risk Themselves
The youth-centered atmosphere at Areivim is designed to guide teens into independence and success. Their placements and advocacy programs help teens find a place where they belong and offer them a chance at a fresh start. Crisis intervention by trained staff brings to sustainable solutions, and the counseling program provides youth with the mentors they need.
Madraigos, located in New York, provides teens with the tools they need to lead healthy, successful lives. Their drop-in center, holiday retreats, and year-round-events are safe places for teens to be uplifted and encouraged. Support groups, referrals, case management, and a 24-hour support line are services that greatly benefit struggling youth.
Located in New York, Our Place is a haven for teens in pain. They arrive with the “heavy baggage” of substance abuse, delinquency, and family issues and are warmly welcomed and accepted. Our Place and The Living Room boasts a fun-filled and supportive environment where teens find adults who believe in them while they “chill out.”
Project Extreme is a unique organization for teens at risk and their families. They provide a wide array of individualized services and support, including long- and short-term programs. Project Extreme offers crisis intervention accessible via the crisis text or phone line. Their camps – Camp Extreme for boys and for girls – and their retreats provide youth with a Jewish environment that supports their mental health. Miryam’s House, a division of Project Extreme, serves as a transitional shelter for young women in New York. It offers a safe, growth-oriented home for those seeking to gain important relationship and communication skills.
Resources for Infertility and Baby Loss in the Jewish Community
Knafayim offers support for families facing pregnancy or early baby loss. Loss support packets and weekly inspirational messages, posted on social media, comfort families in pain. In addition, they host various phone support groups and inspirational talks.
NechamaComfort supports families Founder Reva knows the pain of loss: she lost her 12-year-old son and suffered six miscarriages. NechamaComfort’s on-site counseling in the tristate area in addition to phone or Skype counsel help guide families grappling with miscarriages, stillbirth or infant loss. Support groups are conducted throughout the tristate area and education and awareness programs are carried out throughout the country.
Yesh Tikvah provides psychosocial support to women struggling with infertility. On the Yesh Tikvah website, women share their stories and make “fertility friends,” join virtual support groups and finally feel understood and supported.
General Resources for Mental Health in the Jewish Community
A unique organization, located in New York, Achiezer seeks to provide support to anyone struggling in the community. They work together with our community’s various organizations and guide individuals in finding the help that’s right for them. Their numerous services include medical, legal and insurance programs. Their mental health program has on-site professionals to assist those who need. They also offer mental health crisis intervention, referrals and expedited appointments. Among their other programs are a financial program, a 24 hour helpline and the arrangement of meals and transportation for those who need.
Based in New York, Amudim is a Jewish mental health resource that primarily supports families with understanding and care. Their case management and crisis intervention provide solutions, skills, referrals, and guidance.
Chazkeinu encourages empathetic support and positive connections for Jewish women with mental illness through non-judgmental sharing and support. Their tagline “strengthening ourselves by strengthening others” is the underlying theme in their phone meetings, during which women share their personal mental health struggles. Professionals and rabbanim join these phone conversations to encourage and support.
Imadi recognizes the ripple effect that mental illness has on the family. Professionally trained volunteers offer guidance and make sure the practical needs of a family dealing with mental illness are met. This includes arranging for meal delivery, transportation, sibling support and more.
Links acts as a large, extended family for children or teens who’ve lost a parent. They provide support and chizzuk. All Links mentors lost a parent when they were a child or teen, and they understand the pain. Links Shabbatons, melava malkas, and events are times when orphans have fun together with others who understand their loss. Their newsletters, services, and mentors help relieve the isolation and pain.
Neshuma seeks to normalize mental health support in the Jewish community and make it more accessible. They spread awareness through community education and provide case management and guidance.
Designed with the goal to provide encouragement for the parents of a child with mental illness, Project Ometz seeks to lessen the feelings of isolation and confusion that mental illness can induce. They achieve this primarily through Parent Mentor Volunteers – volunteers who’ve experienced the pain and share their stories, support, and guidance.
Refuat Hanefesh’s mission is to decrease the stigma of mental health in the Jewish community by giving voice to those affected to speak out in a safe environment. They provide community education, school curriculums, and online support rooms dedicated to anyone who wishes to join the mental health conversation.
With multiple branches – one in New York, New Jersey, Israel and the UK – Relief has an extensive database of mental health professionals. Relief’s referrals system takes into account each individual’s specific needs and recommends a professional that would best benefit the individual seeking help.
Shalom Task Force educates the community and provides assistance for sufferers and survivors of domestic abuse. Their confidential hotline is available 24 hours a day so that anyone in need of help can reach out. Sarah’s Voice provides legal assistance to victims. Their education program, focusing on relationship skills and conflict resolution, impacts thousands annually. Workshops for Couples gives tools to help enhance relationships and increase effective communication. STF also trains and guides professionals in communities worldwide so they’re equipped to help in situations of domestic abuse.
We’re fortunate to belong to a community with rapidly growing resources. We likely didn’t capture every awesome resource out there. Please share anything we’ve missed in the comments below. We will continue to update this article as an evergrowing resource.
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