It’s been a long fifteen months. We’ve each suffered loss throughout this pandemic in a variety of ways—from loss of those who we love, to loss of work, to painful loneliness, and more. To say the least, it has been a really hard year. And while we are seeing progress with effective vaccinations, we aren’t out of the woods yet.
But even when the pandemic is over, the mental health impact of this past year will linger for a long time. It’s no surprise that according to the CDC, there are “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19.” We see it all around us, and mental health organizations have shared that the trends are alarming. In fact, a CDC study performed in June 2020 indicated that 40 percent of US adults were struggling with mental health or substance abuse.
The OU’s Community Projects and Partnerships has been tasked, at the request of Rabbi Moshe Hauer, OU Executive Vice President, with organizing a national effort to provide meaningful, practical resources to help the wider community. Our team partnered with numerous national mental health organizations and began conversations about impactful resources to provide to our community. In April, the OU launched a new website, ou.org/mental-health, which includes a special video message from Rabbi Hauer, a variety of new resources and an archive of programs that the OU ran throughout this past year.
Resources include “Shabbos Table Talks” from Amudim, which is a one-pager for each week of May that helps parents talk to their children about mental health, differentiated by the age of the child; resources on domestic abuse from Shalom Taskforce; a #goingdarkfordinner campaign from Digital Citizenship Project; and a video from Dr. David Pelcovitz and Dr. Rona Novick of Yeshiva University in which they speak about mental health for adults and children respectively.
It is the deep hope of the OU that we as a community continue to focus on our mental health and the de-stigmatization of mental health needs and diagnoses.
Rabbi Phil Karesh, Executive Director of OU Community Projects and Partnerships