Religion and spirituality are important to those struggling with a mental health issue. People will also turn to their spiritual leaders when facing substance abuse problems. The following five practices contribute to a safe and comfortable environment for the people you are trying to help in your family or in your community.
Listen to the person’s stories about their journey and ask what they need at this time. Keep the door open; call or send an email from time to time, and be ready to embrace them on their timeframe.
2. Talk openly
Talk openly about mental health. Breaking the silence will end or reduce the stigma. Here are some ideas you can use:
a. Consider including mental health conditions and emotional well being in your sermons. Also use statistics on mental health (use statistics from this newsletter or other sources).
b. Organize a post-Kiddush program featuring a speaker or panel and include: A person living with a mental health condition; a parent; and a mental health professional. Be sure to include yourself as well.
c. Speak to young people in Jewish schools, camps and youth groups. Explain to them about mental health, bullying, and what to do when a friend is struggling.
d. Partner with a local mental health organization or social service agency for a communal evening on mental health. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for materials and ideas.
3. Learn Emergency Procedures
Ask your local police department or other first responders if they would provide emergency training for your entire staff. Discuss when to call 911 and what procedures to follow once that call is made. Compile a list of resources including local professionals, NAMI, mental health agencies, Jewish Family Services, and other organizations you work with. Share that information with everyone you are trying to help. (Click Here for a printable mental health resource list.)