According to the World Health Organization, nearly 800,000 people each year die from suicide — that is one person every 40 seconds. Israel is not exempt from this epidemic. And, even when someone suffering doesn’t turn to suicide, they are still suffering. It seems apropos that World Mental Health Day was on Oct. 10, the day after Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur offer us the chance to begin anew, to let go of past frustrations and regrets, and to look forward to a brighter future. It is a time to recharge our batteries, not only spiritually, but mentally as well.
One Israeli nonprofit organization is doing everything possible to address mental health concerns in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Kav L’Noar, which recently merged with Shlavim, has several programs to assist youth and families who are struggling with mental health issues, dysfunctional situations and who simply need more support. And now Kav L’Noar is poised to take its impact countrywide.
With a combined total of more than 20 years of experience impacting the emotional health of Israeli society, Kav L’Noar and Shlavim are frontrunners in the quest to assist those struggling mentally and emotionally. Kav L’Noar provides individual and group mentoring programs, counseling, community education, parenting workshops, and more for struggling youth. These programs provide youth and young adults with the skills they need to confront the challenges in their lives, whether they be a major crisis, such as addiction or mental health disorders, or seemingly lesser struggles, such as adjusting to a new environment or low self-esteem.
This work not only helps the youth, but the youth’s entire family. A family is only as healthy as its least healthy member. When there is stress concerning a child’s mental well-being, cracks often begin to appear elsewhere in the family. Sometimes siblings begin acting out or feeling neglected. Sometimes parents play the blame game and become too hard on each other or themselves. Often there will be fighting, anxiety and even depression.
Just as Kav L’Noar makes families stronger, it too is making Israel stronger. The success of a society is contingent upon the resilience, strength and emotional health of its people. Because Kav L’Noar works across numerous planes — individual, group, family and community — it is able to have a broad impact across Israeli society; it creates a dynamic ripple effect. Kav L’Noar’s programs help the individual, the entire family and Israel. The organization has rigorous metrics to evaluate the success of each program, which allows it to more clearly see the deep impact it is having in Israel.
One of the best ways to strengthen Israeli society when it comes to mental health is through education. Too often mental health struggles are stigmatized, ignored or dismissed; they must be addressed in a caring, nonjudgmental and supportive environment — one which Kav L’Noar provides.
Whatever the challenges though, Kav L’Noar provides support and guidance, helping some of Israel’s most vulnerable youth find their inner strength and learn the tools they need to be successes, not only academically, but socially and mentally as well.
Kav L’Noar’s operating principle is that strong and healthy personal relationships are the key to mental and emotional health. The organization works to strengthen interpersonal relationships and provide the support needed that takes families through and out of crisis. By matching youth with young adult mentors, the organization helps those struggling to feel accepted, loved and that they have worth. It gives them people to look up to and helps them feel less alone as they navigate the deep waters of mental health. Kav L’Noar empowers youth to see their value and to know that they can overcome any challenge.
As we have enter a new year, this necessary work is even more vital. New beginnings is precisely what Kav L’Noar provides. It addresses oft-overlooked mental health issues and reinforces families. Kav L’Noar is literally saving our youth from suicide and self-harm, saving marriages from falling apart, and saving the moral fabric of Israeli society.
In this new year, we must all work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues and increase awareness and education. No one needs to suffer alone.
Josh Nass is a public relations professional who appreciates the contributions Kav L’Noar is making in Israel and beyond.