The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of mental illnesses and the importance of mental wellness for all. In our own country, an estimated 18.6 percent or 43.7 million Americans live with mental illnesses, and 4.1% or 9.6 million U.S. adults have a serious mental illness. Whether or not we have personally experienced a mental illness, no family or community is immune.
Mental health issues intersect with a large number of the issues we work on at the RAC:
These are just a few ways that mental health issues impact the areas we focus on at the RAC. Our dedication to addressing mental illness is rooted in our sacred texts. Jewish tradition teaches us to be concerned about the well-being of both the body and the mind, of both mental and physical health. The great scholar Maimonides wrote, “When someone is overpowered by imagination, prolonged meditation, and avoidance of social contact, which he never exhibited before, or when he avoids pleasant experiences that were in him before, the physician should do nothing before he improves the soul by removing the extreme emotions.” In addition, when we say the mi sh’beirach (the prayer for healing), we pray for a refuah sheleimah–a complete recovery–and further specify refuat ha-nefesh u’refuat haguf, a healing of the soul and the body. Our tradition recognizes a distinction between mental and physical health, but views them equally, recognizing that both are necessary for us to be complete.
To learn more about mental health and Jewish values, check out the RAC’s webpage on mental health issues.