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August 27, 2010

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 27, 2010 PAGE 13.6, y says By Sharon Udasin New York Jewish Week A just-published survey of more than 100 Orthodox mental health professionals revealed that despite significant improve- ments in the past 25 years, the psychological needs of today's Orthodox Jewish community are still far from being met. "Unfortunately, even thought the mental health world spends a lot of energy studying diverse population minorities, it tends to be that religious minori- ties like Jews and Orthodox Jews have been omitted from that population," said Eliezer Schnall, clinical assistant pro- fessor of psychology at Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University and the project's lead researcher. The study, called "Psycho- logical Disorder and Stigma: A 25-Year Follow-up Study in the Orthodox Jewish Commu- nity," follows up on an original study conducted in 1984 by Dr. Shalom Feinberg, clinical as- sociate professor of psychiatry at YU's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, andhiswife Dr. Karyn Feinberg, school psychologist at Yeshiva Har Torah in Queens. Schnalland his team distributed the survey among a listserv of about 450 mental health professionals from Nefesh--an organization formed in 1992 to bringtogether Orthodoxmental health professionals and rabbis. About 100 replies were received. Eliezer Schnall Respondents answered ques- tions on topics such as the most prevalent psychological disorders within the Orthodox community, how well each seg- ment of the community is being served and how much stigma is still associated with mental health conditions. Schnall presented his team's findings at the American Psy- chological Association conven- tion in San Diego two weeks ago. "On the one hand about 50 percent are telling us that [the Orthodox population is] at least somewhat underserved, and that's a situation where we are notwhere we want to be," Schnall told The Jewish Week. "But... the number of those who in 1984 said needs are adequately met was only 10 percent--now the number is 40 percent." The most common patient "Virtually every single [re- "ThisisacommunitywhereIcians in New York and about 85 visits involve marital problems, spondent] said [tolerance of thinkarabbicanplayanimpor- percent outside said that few, if followed by a combination of medical treatment] is either taut role; they do play an influ- any, clients are referredto their anxiety disorders, substance somewhat greater or much entialroleandcongregantsmay doctors by rabbis. abuse and affective (mood) greater," Schnall said. "There be turning to rabbis for advice "We need to educate the disorders like depression, ac- is definitely greater acceptance and counseling," Schnall said. community and rabbis about cordingtoresponsesinSchnall's withinthecommunityforillness Nefesh, the group of Ortho- the nature of psychiatric ill- survey, and treatment of that illness." doxmentalhealthprofessionals nesses and the availability In the quarter-century be- Both the chasidic and ultra- that distributed the survey, of treatment. All emotional tween studies, the responding OrthodoxsegmentsofOrthodox hopestocontributetothiseffort problems are not the same," clinicians who felt that corn- Jewry remain particularly un- "by providing ongoing profes- Feinberg added. "It's not some munity members mistrust the derserved, while the age group sional development opportuni- homogenous bag of problems. mentalhealthfieldhasdropped that needs the most attention ties and seminars regarding Take shidduch anxiety for from87to59percent;clinicians includes children and adoles- mental health concerns and instance--I'm seeing people who felt thatmental health pa- cents. Eighty-five percent of cultural sensitivity to profes- gettingmarriednowwhonever tients are stigmatized fell from respondingcliniciansidentified Sionalsand community leaders could've gotten a shidduch 93 to 70. Mental health visits the ultra-Orthodox as under- such as rabbis and teachers," [match]25yearsago.Yes, some are still perceived as relatively served in 1984, and 48 did so in according to its president and people are on medicine, but expensive, with 47 percent of 2009.Seventy-twopercentofre- licensed clinical social worker, they're still capable of being doctors in 2009 responding spondentsin 1984saidchasidim Rabbi Simcha Feuerman. good husbands and fathers, for thatpatientsviewpsychological were underserved, while 58 did "The Orthodox Jewish corn- instance." services as unaffordable; that so in 2009. In contrast, only munity is growing, and along And this is a crucial detail figure was 57 percent in 1984. 11 percent of those surveyed with it, the complex needs of that doctors like Schnall and "Clearly the needs are l eifig identifiedtheModernOrthodox its growing families," he said. Feinberg hope the entire com- metbetternowthanbackthen," as particularly underserved 25 From rabbinical schools and munity will soon understand. ShalomFeinbergsaid."Itseems years ago, and 4 percent did so on, rabbis need to be trained to "There has definitely been like there has been light years now, Schnall said. recognize disorders and know improvement, but we are not of progress. So how does one ButaccordingtobothSchnall to whom they should refer where we need to be," Schnall explain the numbers. Our take andthe other Orthodox mental congregants. Currently, rabbis said. on this is that there's a greater healthprofessionals, bothrabbis do not play a significant role SharonUdasinisastaffwfiter awareness of psychopathology and communityleaderscantake in patient referral, a passivity for the New York Jewish Week now. There was so much more activerolestoreducethestigma that Schnall laments. About from which this article was denial and so much less aware- of mental health treatment. 75 percent of Orthodox clini- reprinted by permission. nessofthe existenceofproblems than there was back then. The bar has been raised now." Though much improvement still needs to occur, Schnall was encouraged to find that all of "MOM TRULY ENJOYS HER LIFE these results are statistically significant and that treatment hasbecomemuchmoreaccept- AT OAK_MONTE VILLAGE" able to the community. As you can see ere are many variables to consider: We will supply you up to three complimentary Roth IRA conversion reports. Call 407-875-2674 or email today! 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