Resource Category: Mental Health

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September is both National Suicide Prevention Month and the Jewish High Holiday season, a time where we are thinking about how to improve and nurture our own lives and the lives of the people around us. Hear the moving stories of a rabbi, a Jewish educator, and a mental health professional whose families have experienced suicide and suicidal ideation. Featuring: Rabbi David Kirshner, Mel Berwin, Ruby Falk.
By Ruby Falk | Anyone who has lost a loved one in an “unsavory” way — generally, suicide and/or an overdose — knows all too well the physical reaction you have when someone asks how your person died. It’s information we’re not so ready to give away until we know we can truly trust the person to hold this for us. This same level of recoiling doesn’t exist when we’ve lost someone to cancer or another illness. We’re much quicker to share the positive, happy, warm memories of that person. We remember the rich life they lived leading up to their passing, even if it was an untimely death. How is it still this hard for us (myself included) to accept that mental illness is as critical and life-threatening as any physical condition?
Mirror without a reflection with flowers covering the ground.
Creativity is a godly activity. According to Jewish tradition, every story in the Torah is included for a reason. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, a 20th-century scholar, wrote in “Halakich Man” that the reason the story of creation was included in the Torah was to teach us to be creative — just like God. Engaging in art and practicing creativity can leave us with more than just a beautiful physical piece of work. Art can be an incredible tool for expressing ourselves and actively supporting our mental health. Research has found “expression through art can help people [who are struggling] with depression, anxiety, and stress.”* Engaging in art for even 20 minutes reduces cortisol, which decreases stress.
Co-authored with JFS Jewish Disabilities Advocates Collaborative | As the new year begins, we are thinking about social connection. Social connection has an incredible impact on our overall health, both as individuals and as a community. Having stable and supportive connections as an individual leads to better physical and mental health outcomes such as longer life, better health and increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
Closely following the holiday of Tisha B'Av, we observe Tu B’Av – the day we traditionally celebrate love, marriage and the continuation of life. This pairing of suffering with recovery and resilience is crucial to the survival of the Jewish people, and this cycle can teach us much about how we can cope and persevere in our own lives today. It can also be an opportunity to explore how we can cope and persevere and take care of ourselves when supporting the people we celebrate on Tu B'Av becomes too much for us.
It is true that people aren’t always ready to accept help, even when they desperately need it, but that doesn’t mean we need to wait until they hit rock bottom before accepting or seeking help. We can and should intervene before our friends get to that point. But we need to understand how to do it most effectively and sensitively.
Person helping another person up.
Innerbody seeks to provide objective, science-based information and advice that helps you make health-related decisions and enjoy a healthier, happier lifestyle, and has compiled some facts about rates of suicide in different populations, risk factors for suicidal actions, and information on warning signs and resources to help you.