Position of the Reform Movement on Mental Health

Mental health is an important issue for the Reform Movement. In 2001, the URJ passed a resolution titled, "Establishing a Comprehensive System of Care for Persons with Mental Illness.” The resolution urges the URJ to address mental health issues that exist in many arenas of society. These include adults and children, employment, homelessness, the criminal justice system. The resolution also addresses the need for systems of care and adequate funding and support for caregivers.

The Union of Reform Judaism is resolved to:

  1. Prepare materials to be used for training synagogue, religious school, camp, and youth-program personnel to recognize and deal appropriately with members and participants with mental illnesses;
  2. Call upon all member congregations to:
    1. Participate in communal efforts aimed at destigmatizing mental illness and work with the entire Jewish community to develop resources and programming aimed at addressing the stigmatization of mental illness;
    2. Work with persons with mental illness and their families so that they feel welcome within our synagogues;
    3. Make use of the materials prepared by the UAHC to train personnel to recognize and deal appropriately with members and participants with mental illness; and
    4. Work with other groups performing mental health outreach within the Jewish community to persons with mental illness.
  3. Call for increased governmental and community support and development of programming for caregivers of persons with mental illnesses;
  4. Call on the U.S. and Canadian governments to maintain and increase funding for federal programs aimed at treating persons with mental illness and assisting them to live healthy and independent lives;
  5. Call on the U.S. and Canadian governments to increase funding for mental health research and the development and testing of innovative mental health programs, including those focusing on the co-occurrence of mental health disorders and substance-abuse disorders;
  6. Encourage governmental integration and coordination of quality housing and mental health systems to provide comprehensive assistance, with special attention paid to persons with mental illness who live on our streets and in our shelters;
  7. Call for federal and state legislation in the United States to require parity between physical and mental health coverage by health insurance carriers, both private and public, similar to the system of universal comprehensive mental health coverage in Canada;
  8. Call for state legislation in the United States to provide the necessary funding to fully implement the Olmstead Supreme Court decision to provide community-based treatment for those persons with mental illness when such placement in a less restrictive setting is appropriate.
  9. Call on member congregations and the UAHC to provide health coverage for employees that guarantees parity in mental health coverage;
  10. Call for increased attention to the many inmates in our nations' prisons with mental illnesses, focusing on the need to:
    1. Place nonviolent, mentally ill criminal offenders into community-based mental health programs and also work to ensure that persons with mental illness who are sentenced to prison receive appropriate and humane treatment, including access to appropriate medication;
    2. Limit the use of involuntary physical restraints and the imposition of mandatory treatment solely to cases that are not otherwise manageable.
    3. Limit civil commitment and mandatory treatment to circumstances where it is used only with due-process protections;
    4. Call upon law-enforcement agencies to develop policies, practices, and specialized training for police officers and corrections officers to recognize and deal appropriately with persons with mental illnesses;
    5. Call for increased governmental attention to the youth within the justice system and the need for increased funding for community-based treatment programs for mentally ill juvenile offenders;
    6. Call on state and federal jurisdictions in the United States that retain the death penalty to exclude from consideration for the death penalty persons with mental illness; and
    7. Work to find common ground with all groups-including those who otherwise support the death penalty-who oppose the execution of persons with mental illnesses.
  11. Encourage an end to workplace discrimination against persons with mental illness in fact as well as in law, encourage governmental development of further programs to assist persons with mental illness in returning to the workplace, and assist employers in working with them;
  12. Call for an increased focus on the mental health needs of children, including teenagers, by advocating for:
    1. A coordinated system of care for children and teenagers with mental health problems;
    2. An emphasis on early recognition, prevention, and intervention, especially focusing on the prevention of suicide;
    3. Increased research on the mental health problems of juveniles; and
    4. Increased attention toward mental health needs within the schools and among professionals dealing with children in child care facilities and schools, as well as toward the development and implementation of training programs for these individuals; and
  13. Call for an increased focus on the recognition, prevention, intervention, and treatment of depression and other mental illnesses in the adult population.


Establishing a Complete System of Care for Persons With Mental Illnesses, 2001 
Child Abuse and Neglect, 1977  
Affordable Housing, 1989  
Reform of the Health Care, 1993  


Establishing a Complete System of Care for Persons With Mental Illnesses, 2001
National Health Care, 1991 
Caring for those with Mental Illnesses, 1997
Children's Health Care, 1997