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Study: Mental Health Needs of Orthodox Jews Not Being Met

The mental health needs of the Orthodox community are not being sufficiently addressed, according to a new study from Yeshiva University.

The service gaps are particularly pronounced in the haredi Orthodox and Chasidic communities, according to the study.

Eliezer Schnall, a YU psychology professor who led the research team, was to present his findings Aug. 13 in San Diego at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

Researchers asked approximately 250 Orthodox mental health professionals to assess the state of services offered to the Orthodox community today, compared to 25 years ago. The 100 respondents perceived little if any improvement, particularly among the Chasidim.

Schnall called the results a “wake-up call,” and said there is still a stigma in the Orthodox community attached to mental illness that prevents people from seeking help. An additional factor impeding good mental health services is their cost, he said.

The study showed that the most common problem for which Orthodox Jews seek mental health services is marital difficulties. More services for children and teenagers are needed, and there is a lack of services for substance abuse problems, the report found.

Most respondents said few of their patients were referred by their rabbis. Researchers said this indicates the need to train Orthodox rabbis to recognize mental illness and understand that proper treatment can help.

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