Jewish Values and Mental Health

Jewish tradition is concerned with the health and well-being of the mind.

Maimonides wrote, "When one is overpowered by imagination, prolonged meditation and avoidance of social contact, which he never exhibited before, or when one avoids pleasant experiences which were in him before, the physician should do nothing before he improves the soul by removing the extreme emotions." Before addressing a person's physical needs, physicians must first attend to the patient's emotional and mental needs.

In the traditional Mi Shebeirach (prayer for healing), we pray for a r’fuah shleimah, a complete recovery, which includes both r’fuat hanefesh ur’fuat haguf, a healing of the soul and the body. Indeed, Judaism acknowledges a distinction between mental and physical health, but our tradition treats them on an equal plane, recognizing that both a healthy body and a healthy mind are necessary for human beings to be complete.