Every two years, LJY-Netzer picks a new social action project to work on. This year, attendees at Veidah, LJY’s annual decision-making event, decided our social action project for at least the next two years is mental health, in association with Time to Change.
At Veidah we decided a social action project should be a real mission for the movement. An opportunity to truly change society for the better. By focusing on mental health, and participating in the Time to Change campaign, LJY members can make real progress in ending mental health discrimination and make a positive impact on society.
Mental health is an issue that isn’t often talked about as often as it should be, and this is one of the reasons why we decided at Veidah to focus on it. One in four people in a year suffer from a mental health problem, and one in seven people suffer from depression. Most worryingly, suicide is the biggest killers of young males. Mental health affects our chanachim, madrichim and our families and friends. Despite this, people often wait years before seeking help from those close to them or health professionals. By educating all members of LJY about mental health, we can get people talking about their own issues, help people talk to their friends and families who may be in need, and create a force of people ready to make social progress on mental health stigma. By getting ourselves talking, we can help others realise that mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of, and no one should be treated any different because they have a mental health problem.
The Time to Change project is a campaign dedicated to ending mental health discrimination. They run nation-wide campaigns on issues related to ending discrimination, such as “Time to Talk” day on the 6th of February, and awareness weeks on specific illnesses such as the recent “Schizophrenia Awareness Week” which aimed to end misconceptions and stereotypes about people living with schizophrenia.
LJY and its members can get involved in Time to Change all year round by getting involved with projects in their local communities and synagogues, as well as reading and sharing the work Time to Change does online. All it takes on an individual level is getting educated and involved with the campaign and making sure you make a difference in the lives of others around you. On a movement level, we will be getting involved in nationwide campaigns, making sure madrichim have good training on mental health issues, making sure our welfare policies reflect the destigmatization of mental illness and more. LJY will also be working towards making a Time to Change pledge, showing they are committed to working towards ending discrimination based on mental health, and I hope we will be lobbying Liberal Judaism to do the same.
Mental health in association with Time to Change and LJY have the shared aims of inclusivity and equality, and through it being our social action project we can be sure that we are really helping to make social progress. The awareness and social change we can create by getting involved in the campaign and educating ourselves should never be underestimated. This is a social action project that I believe can, and will. make lasting change. It will affect the members of LJY, and it can affect the whole of society. It is, undoubtedly, time to change discrimination around mental health, and LJY is now a part of that.
By Miriam Steiner