Over the coming weeks, in addition to celebrating the High Holidays, we also have the opportunity to mark National Suicide Prevention Week, September 10-16. This observance, sadly, is much too relevant both nationally and in our community. A Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Community Health Report in 2019 indicated that youth were accessing mental health treatment at exponentially higher rates than in previous years. There was a 34 percent increase in emergency department visits for mental health evaluations, while treatment for depression and anxiety during outpatient visits increased by 41 percent. These numbers have only increased since the pandemic. At the same time, local school districts today report an increase in mental health crises and deaths by suicides. And, locally, there is a shortage in mental health professionals.
With all this in mind, I want to share with you how the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati is working with community partners to address mental health in our community. These efforts are a reflection of our commitment to living out Jewish values:
Addressing Emerging Mental Health Needs of Teens and Young Adults
Cincinnati’s Jewish Family Service received funding from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to launch a one-year pilot initiative in 2021 that specifically focused on teens and young adults. Last year, the Foundation awarded a three-year, $3 million grant to grow the initiative in a variety of ways, including adding additional professional counseling staff and embedding care providers in local Jewish institutions serving teens and young adults.
Establishing a Mental Health Resiliency Roundtable
The Roundtable, modeled on Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) BeWell platform, is composed of 18 community lay leaders, clinical practitioners, and agency leaders who meet regularly to identify additional areas that Jewish Family Service may be unable to address with its own resources. The goal is to create a stigma-free, comprehensive and integrated Jewish communal support system for Jewish Cincinnati families seeking improved mental health and wellbeing care, regardless of age, socio-economic status, or level of need. In partnership with Rosov Consulting, the Foundation–in collaboration with the Jewish Federation and JFS–launched two Mental Health Community Surveys; one sent to teens and young adults, and the other sent to their parents. The results of these surveys will inform the Roundtable’s future planning and programming to address the areas that most need additional support. Survey results are currently being reviewed and we look forward to sharing them later this fall. One key action step is determining the best way to center teen and young adult voices in planning and decision-making around mental health programs.
Investing in a Community Funder Collaborative
The Foundation was an early investor in a community funder collaborative, which aims to create a 10-year comprehensive community youth mental health plan for the entire region, and is designed to ensure equitable access to mental health services and support. The work is now underway, and we look forward to sharing key learnings, regional plans, and progress in the coming years.
These efforts show the power of working with partners to effectively resource and address local needs. Together, we can make a difference and save lives.
We wish you a Happy New Year, filled with peace of mind and full health.
Shanah Tovah U’Metukah,
If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide or in need of an immediate intervention, please call “988.” Here is more information on Jewish Family Service’s mental health care resources. And here are national Jewish mental health resources.