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On Mental Health Day Reform Jewish Movement Calls on Congress to Pass Mental Health Parity Legislation
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, a global event that is celebrated in more than 180 countries and territories, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement reaffirming the Reform Movement’s commitment to bringing healing to those who suffer from mental illness, and to providing “parity” in health insurance coverage.

Pelavin: Mental health parity legislation will not lead to a significant increase in insurance premiums, but for those Americans living with mental illness, the cost of not enacting this legislation could not be greater.


Contact:
Alexis Rice or Sheryl Shapiro 202-387-2800

Washington, October 10, 2003 - In honor of World Mental Health Day, observed today in more than 100 countries, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Today, communities around the world are participating in activities to raise awareness about the importance of mental health issues. This year's theme, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders of Children and Adolescents, reminds us that adults are not the only ones who suffer from mental illness. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of children and adolescents worldwide suffer from an impairing mental illness. Furthermore, mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death in this country.

We cannot begin to address the severity of mental health problems that afflict children, adolescents and adults without a comprehensive, federal commitment to ending mental illness. Mental health parity legislation is pending in both the House and Senate. In the Senate, the legislation, named in memory of the late Senator Paul Wellstone, a champion of mental health parity, has 67 bipartisan co-sponsors. In the House, the bill also has the overwhelming support of 244 bipartisan co-sponsors. Yet momentum on the legislation has stalled. With such existing and broad support, it is time for Congress to pass this critically needed mental health parity legislation.

Jewish tradition recognizes that both a healthy body and a healthy mind are necessary for human beings to be complete. Maimonides, the great Jewish scholar, physician, and philosopher, taught that when a person is overpowered by "imagination, prolonged meditation, and avoidance of social contact," the physician must first treat these symptoms of mental illness before addressing the patient's physical ailments. In that spirit, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis are committed to addressing the stigmatization of mental illness and assuring that those in need receive proper treatment. Mental health parity legislation will not lead to a significant increase in insurance premiums, but for those Americans living with mental illness, the cost of not enacting this legislation could not be greater.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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