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As Mental Illness Awareness Week Begins, Reform Movement Urges Congress to Support Mental Health Parity Legislation


Pelavin: "On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to continuing to strive for a world in which people with mental illness are supported and treated with the care they deserve."

Contact: Eric Harris or Deborah Swerdlow
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington, DC, October 4, 2010 -- As the 20th annual Mental Illness Awareness Week begins, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

On the occasion of the 20th annual Mental Illness Awareness Week, we are reminded that mental illness knows no borders and does not discriminate in age or gender. In the U.S., one in four adults struggles with a mental health disorder each year, and the prevalence of mental illness is similar in Canada, where 20 percent of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. Though the past two decades have seen great strides in overcoming the stigma of mental illness, we know that more must be done to raise awareness about mental health, support those struggling with mental illness and their loved ones, and eradicate ongoing instances of discrimination.

Every day, our synagogues strive to meet the needs of congregants in need, as well as their families. Yet we also recognize the need for federal legislation that can impact lives in every community nationwide and help meet the needs of Americans struggling with mental health issues. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity law enacted in 2008 and this year's landmark health insurance reform law will continue to positively affect the ability of Americans struggling with mental illness to obtain affordable care. But we know that more must be done.

Our tradition teaches that a healthy body and a healthy mind are equally important to living a full and satisfying life. In the Jewish prayer for healing, we ask for refuah sheleimah, a complete recovery of both body and soul. On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to continuing to strive for a world in which people with mental illness are supported and treated with the care they deserve.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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