Jewish Care Launches Mental Health Video Campaign for R U OK? Day

September 9, 2016 by Jenna Chaitowitz
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Jewish Care Victoria launched its new mental health awareness video campaign, Reach Out, Speak Out on R U OK? Day, 8 September 2016 – a national day of action for suicide prevention.

Miram Lange, Rabbi Schneier Lange, Bill Appleby, Cassandra Barrett, Annette Matov and Dr Dov Degen

Miram Lange, Rabbi Schneier Lange, Bill Appleby, Cassandra Barrett, Annette Matov and Dr Dov Degen

The video campaign was created as part of Jewish Care’s commitment to mental health promotion, and aims to help combat the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage help-seeking behaviour.

Key guests who attended the launch event at Jewish Care’s St Kilda Rd headquarters included Steve Dimopoulos MP, Member for Oakleigh; Glen Prewett, Acting General Manager Mind Australia South-East Division; Cr Neil Pilling, Mayor of Glen Eira; Jonathan Barnett, President Progressive Judaism Victoria and Keshet; Bill Appleby, Jewish Care CEO and Jewish Care board members.

The four videos feature a variety of Jewish community members with a lived experience of mental ill health, including both consumer and carer perspectives. With representatives from the Orthodox, Russian-speaking and LGBTIQ+ communities, the videos reflect the diversity of our community.

Dr Dov Degen, a member of the local Jewish community who has a lived experience of bipolar disorder, features in Reach Out, Speak Out and spoke at the launch event: “When we take the risk of exposing intimate parts of ourselves, others tend to respond in like. This is the power of vulnerability and sharing. If we do not speak up about our experiences, how can we possibly hope to start a dialogue and effect change? I want to help shed light on a topic that is generally seen as taboo in society and in the Jewish community.”

“This is the time to speak up about mental illness. There are countless people in the community suffering in silence. All it takes to help is to be empathic and compassionate. This can all start with 3 simple words: ‘Are you OK?’,” Dr Degen said.

Acting General Manager Mind Australia South-East Division, Glen Prewett also made an address: “Mind is very proud to be involved in this project and we commend the work of Jewish Care.”

Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby said: “While mental health stigma is present right across the Australian community, we know that it has a particularly strong impact on culturally and linguistically diverse communities, who – generally speaking… are less likely, to reach out and seek help for mental health issues.”

“It is for this reason that we first created our Mental Health Promotion initiative, as a way of providing culturally accessible, ethno-specific awareness activities to the Jewish community [such as the video campaign]. We are committed to supporting the mental wellbeing of our community.”

The video series is the latest offering from Jewish Care’s Mental Health Promotion initiative, which also includes social media activities, a regular mental health bulletin, the annual ‘Postcards for Pesach’ campaign and education forums for parents.

For further information about Jewish Care’s Mental Health Promotion initiatives, please contact Mental Health Promotion Resource Officer Cassandra Barrett on 8517 5908,

Watch the Reach Out, Speak Out video series here:



One Response to “Jewish Care Launches Mental Health Video Campaign for R U OK? Day”
  1. Michael Barnett says:

    A good initiative. In terms of the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people, or simply those who do not identify as heterosexual or cis-gender, the following from Suicide Prevention Australia (Position Statement – Mental Illness and Suicide – June 2009) is pertinent:

    “Similarly, those belonging to religious faiths that promulgate negative discourses about homosexuality are particularly vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. Conflicts between spiritual or religious beliefs and sexuality can result in significant psychological dissonance as well as division and exclusion from family, friends and community.

    For many, these experiences manifest in deep feelings of self-loathing and hatred that, in turn, severely elevate the risk of suicide and self-harm (Hillier et al., 2008).”

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