HUNDREDS of people turned out to express an interest in mental illness in the Jewish community, attending the inaugural event of Areivim Taskforce Denver, Jan. 5, at Zera Abraham.
“Areivim” is Hebrew for “guarantors” or “those who take responsibility,” and is the name of an organization in New York that deals with mental illness and other problems in Jewish families.
The Areivim organization in New York has worked with leaders in Denver to establish the local task force, which it hopes will become a model for how an entire community can effectively address mental illness.
The purpose of the event was to present the Denver task force — the members of its mental health, educational and community committees — and to present addresses by experts on mental health.
Among the highpoints of the event:
“I had a choice between my self-image and between a healthy family.”
“If you subscribe to non-traditional approaches, you’re putting your patient at risk for disorders and complications and death.”
“Any organ in the body can get sick, including the brain.”
The speeches were to the point, based on long expertise and activism in the field.
The keynote address was delivered by Carl Clark, MD, medical director of the Mental Health Center of Denver. He spoke on “Let Us Address Stigma and Start Building.”
The event was emceed by the founder of the task force, Rabbi Tzvi Steinberg, spiritual leader of Zera Abraham.
The spur to the formation of the task force seems to be recent incidents of mental illness, including a suicide.
THE administrator of the task force is Rabbi Shraga Freedman.
The task force hopes to encourage people to devise holistic treatments for mentally ill Jews in metro-Denver.
The idea is to convene a team of mental health professionals, educators and community leaders to discreetly devise a plan of treatment for a mentally ill person, and to present the plan to the person.
The treatment plan is to take into account all of the factors in each given case.
The Denver task force’s main obstacle is stigma, and one of its goals is to remove the stigma that attaches to mental illness.