Learn more about this exciting new platform, where Reform congregational leaders connect with colleagues and peers who have similar concerns, interests and responsibilities.
Adolescence is one of the most change-filled periods of life, a time that’s both turbulent and exciting. During this confusing period, teens may find that previously cherished relationships – including those with parents, old friends, and congregations – now feel confining or suffocating, even though such connections can provide stability and support. Sometimes, they can even provide a lifeline.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five teens and young adults lives with a mental health condition, which can include eating disorders, mood disorders, addictions, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia – and yet, only half of these individuals receive treatment.
Many mental health conditions first become evident in the teen and young adult years, so it’s a crucial time for sharing information, reducing stigma, and offering help – but it’s not always easy for teens and those who support them (including their friends, parents, teachers, youth advisors, and clergy) to determine whether their feelings are part of the normal upheaval of adolescence or signs of more serious issues. In the case of the latter, help is vital in reducing suffering and even saving lives.
Our Jewish tradition commands that we not stand by while our brothers and sisters suffer. That’s why the Reform Movement is joining with others across the world to provide information that offers both help and hope – especially during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Our Reform entities – including congregations, youth programs, summer camps, and outreach programs – aim to provide accepting, encouraging places where Jewish young adults can feel a sense of belonging, develop skills to manage their emotions, and create enduring relationships in the context of their faith and values. These same settings can further support teen mental health by offering information about the signs of various mental health conditions, providing mental health referrals, and offering safe spaces for teens to feel a sense of belonging and support during difficult times.
Of course, our communities can only provide such assistance when they have access to accurate information, effective programs, and lists of places to refer young people. How can we open conversations about mental health and illness?
Though local resources will differ, the following online information may help community leaders develop individualized programming:
Visit the DisabilitiesInclusion.org, the Reform Movement’s online learning portal, to learn more about our upcoming series of live webinars about mental health. For more on this topic, register now for “Addressing Our Teens’ Mental Health Needs,” taking place May 2nd at 2pm ET.