In 2020, the number of Americans showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression rose from 11% to 41%1. Data within our own Jewish community demonstrates these same concerning trends. A study of Jews in 10 different communities, including Boston, found that 63% of Jewish young adults reported experiencing emotional difficulties at least sometime in the past week, more than any other age group2.
Despite existing resources, in our Greater Boston Jewish community, there is currently no coordinated, integrated system for accessing mental health resources — leaving our members at risk during times of extreme stress or crisis. Further compounding the difficulty in accessing care, is a historical lack of acceptance around mental health challenges or mental illness within our Jewish community.
We are compelled, by the lack of access to coordinated care and overwhelming isolation, to take an ambitious new approach to meeting the mental health needs of our Jewish community. We are building a future where every member of our community can live with dignity and feel intimately connected to our people.
Collectively with our partners, we are addressing the complex mental health needs of our community more effectively than any single nonprofit could on their own. We are multiplying our impact by providing robust financial support, assessing the most urgent needs, and launching new low-barrier programs to get people the help they need. In less than a year, hundreds of people have already accessed no-cost cognitive behavioral therapy services through our Path to Well-being program and more than 450 callers to JF&CS Mental Health Connect (funded by CJP) have been guided to resources.
Deeply rooted in our commitment to caring for people when they are vulnerable, and our conviction that mental health is essential to overall well-being, our work will focus on:
Expanding access to mental health care, training, and education
Destigmatizing mental health issues
Advocating for systemic change for the greater good
Ensuring that people facing mental health challenges feel the full support of the Jewish community.
As they considered how to make a lasting impact through their philanthropy, Deanna and Sid Wolk had two priorities: They wanted to partner with CJP, and they wanted to help those in the community who were struggling.
Part of destigmatizing mental health is talking about it openly, especially among teens and young adults. Meet the 2021-22 Jewish Teen Initiative Peer Wellness Fellows who are helping to start the conversation.
1. Societal Experts Action Network, 2020
2. Brandeis | Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, 2020