Mental Health and anti-Poverty Weeks

October 5, 2010 Agencies
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October hosts two weeks highlighting two areas of intense work carried out by communal care organisations…mental health and poverty.Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria Geoffrey Zygier told J-Wire: “The Victorian Jewish community is not immune from poverty and mental health issues that prevail in many societies around the world, according to John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the peak body of Victorian Jewry.

“Given that we have just concluded the reflective period of the High Holydays and the joyous days of Sukkot, it is an apt time to consider the messages of Mental Health Week (10-16 October) followed by Anti-Poverty Week which runs from 17-23 October”, Searle stated today.

“Poverty and ill-health, which are often closely related, cut across every imaginable line: age, race, social, geographic and religious. And while Australia has been termed the lucky country for many reasons, it too has its share of human suffering.  Certainly some have been affected more than others. These include the indigenous community, single parents, unskilled immigrants and the elderly. There are also particular concerns about mental health issues faced by members of the GLBT communities.

To live in poverty or with mental health issues is to live with uncertainty, indignity and misunderstanding, and too often with harassment by those who blame the victim, as well as by others who are also poor and desperate.

As Andrew Markus’ research has demonstrated, the Jewish community is far from immune from these concerns.  Yes, Jews are a people traditionally generous with both time and money.  Our community is also blessed with organisations such as Jewish Care, Access, Australian Jewish Psychologists, Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund and Wings of Care which seek to address such issues.  Nonetheless those of us who are able to assist should strive to do better. In particular, I ask all of us, communal organisations and individuals, to think and act creatively in regard to programs, mentoring, partnerships, activities and regarding our behaviour generally so that we can all make a long-term and lasting difference to peoples’ lives.”

Sydney’s JewishCare Warren Hurst said:  “This year JewishCare’s team of trained mental health professionals assisted 20% more clients than in any previous year. On virtually every day of the year JewishCare holds events that help individuals with mental health issues. Whether it be the weekly social groups, the stall at Bondi Junction Mal, the recent Rosh Hashana celebrations attended by 40 people, the regular phone contacts, the trips away or the counselling sessions JewishCare has developed a unique range of programs that really do make a difference.

JewishCare fully supports Mental Health Week which this year is focusing on the important role that friends, family and community can play in helping to increase the resilience of those with mental health issues.  Importantly JewishCare will continue to play a leading role in the mental health of our community and is committed to engaging with any families or individuals with mental health issues or questions. Call FirstCall JewishCare on 1300 133 660”

Rabbi Mendel Kastel is the CEO of Sydney’s The Jewish House. He told J-Wire: “We will feature Mental Health Week on our web site, publishing tools for self-assessment, event details and resources for help and services. We have child psychiatrist Dr Marshall Kornblum spending a day with us. He is an expert in his field who lives and works in Toronto and we hope to benefit from the different services he is associated with.”

Sydney’s JewishCare and The Jewish House concurred that they had difficulty in highlighting anti-Poverty Week.

They both expressed to J-Wire their views that poverty was an issue they dealt with every single day of the year.


One Response to “Mental Health and anti-Poverty Weeks”
  1. Since last Mental Health Week I read quite a bit about Jews and how mental health is supported within the religion and the culture, as well as within the wider Australian community.

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