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2016 Resolution: Caring for Those with Mental Health Challenges in Our Communities

Whereas psychological and psychiatric conditions are common sources of human suffering among all populations which can significantly impact the lives not only of those who have them but also of their friends and family members; and,

Whereas as rabbis, we are painfully aware of those who suffer in our communities; and

Whereas clinical treatment can bring significant relief for many such conditions; and

Whereas personal, historical, religious, social, and familial concerns as well as stigma often cause people in our communities not to seek such help

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America urges organizations, rabbis, communities, and all individuals in the Orthodox community to

Discuss, in public settings, the communal prevalence, human impacts, and treatable nature of common psychiatric and psychological disorders, counter the common reasons why people who could benefit from treatment are often reluctant to pursue it, and encourage those who can benefit from such treatment to pursue it.

Acknowledge the prevalence of psychiatric disorders, work to end the stigma surrounding their existence and treatment, and discourage automatic disqualification of a potential marriage partner due to a family history of the same.

Support and embrace with sensitivity and understanding individuals who live with such conditions, as well as their friends and families. In doing so, we fulfill the precepts of nosei be’ol im chaveiro (sharing another’s burdens as our own) and ve’ahavta le’re’acha ka’mocha (loving your neighbour as yourself). Even as we must provide this support in many private and communal settings, we especially encourage it at our Shabbat and Yom Tov tables and during synagogue services where we express and reinforce so many of our deeply held values and communal norms.


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