The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in March 2022 of an accelerating mental health crisis among adolescents, with more than 4 in 10 teens reporting that they feel “persistently sad or hopeless,” and 1 in 5 saying they have contemplated suicide. With this growing and persistent awareness of the complexity of mental health challenges impacting the Jewish, the Atlanta Jewish Foundation commissioned a project to understand the landscape and develop a plan to equip the community to ensure proactive support for the Mental Health and Wellbeing needs and opportunities locally. This research was designed to better understand how mental health work already underway has been going, what gaps and opportunities still exist, and how the Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s participation and philanthropic tools will build existing efforts and institutions, specifically. Dozens of interviews, focus groups and other research highlighted three overarching issues specific to the Atlanta Jewish community, and validated challenges true nationally: professionals attempting to address these issues work in siloes, stigma is a significant barrier to getting help, and access to support is extremely limited due to clinical staff shortages and a general lack of knowledge about existing resources. All current efforts could have greater impact if there were mechanisms in place to support integration of the work.
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The BeWellATL initiative, housed at Jewish Family and Career Services (JF&CS) and made possible through a generous grant from the Zalik Foundation, will create an infrastructure to build resiliency and cross-community partnerships, to connect the community to services, and increase capacity to better respond to community needs. The national BeWell initiative was developed through a collaboration of the Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies (NJHSA) and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).
The BeWellATL Initiative builds on JF&CS’s array of mental health programs focusing on enhancing mental health through strengthening and building resilience in families and youth. Services at The Horwitz-Zusman & Family Center, part of Frances Bunzl Clinical Services, include traditional therapy, psychoeducational testing, parent coaching, executive coaching, and monthly focus workshops for parents and the community.
The funds, secured through the Atlanta Jewish Funder Collaborative led by the Atlanta Jewish Foundation, will be used to support Jewish youth facing mental health challenges as well as those that care for them. The initiative will focus on the needs of young adults 12-26, to help them thrive through training, consulting, and mobilizing networks of care for positive youth development and overall wellbeing.
Contact Jori Mendel to learn more about how you can support this work.