FORMER Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in an online mental health discussion, which was held in collaboration with the Australian government.
The international virtual conference took place last Sunday, which was open for all members of the community and Jewish people worldwide. It was an important initiative of the Australian Jewish community, led by Rabbi Chaim Levy of Sydney’s Shul, and the program included discussion around treatment and prevention of mental illness in the community, through the lens of Judaism.
There was also a focus on coping mechanisms, relevant treatments and practical tools for each person to improve their own mental health and wellness.
Senior mental health specialists, clinical psychologists, public figures and Jewish leaders from around the world shared their wisdom and expertise.
A representative of Prime Minister Scott Morrison took part, while Netanyahu shared a special personal message in support of the event.
“I want to wish you a better year, much better than the one I know you endured six months ago,” he said.
“It’s not easy, but I know your spirits were high and I’ve heard great things about you because my son Avner visited Chabad in Australia and he told me of the wonderful camaraderie and of the wonderful Jewish spirit and support for each other, for the Jewish community as a whole and for the State of Israel.
“So I want to thank you and I want to wish you all the very best. Chin up!”
Those participating in the discussion spoke about a recent rise in mental health issues, which are beginning at a younger age.
COVID-19 and the prolonged lockdowns have also done damage, escalating existing conditions and creating new mental health challenges for all ages.
“The event was positive, uplifting and full of meaningful and diverse content – it had something for everyone,” said Rabbi Levy.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, people feel supported and understood. We hope this will be a catalyst for bigger change in mental health.”