BES launches groundbreaking Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health strategy

6 January 2019 – Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue has launched a new Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health strategy called BES Cares, to address the rise in mental health challenges facing a growing number of people.

Dr Judith Friedman, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and member of BES, is heading up the new strategy, supported by BES’s professional Community Support Coordinator and qualified social worked, Karen Moss, the rabbinic team and several other mental health professionals who are BES members.

The BES Cares strategy, aims to develop the community’s ability to practise and talk about emotional wellbeing without fear of prejudice. This will be underpinned by a series of educational events on Shabbat mornings and midweek to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.

The first of which is on Shabbat 26 January when BES will be holding its first Emotional Wellbeing Shabbat. There will be activities for all age groups, including a mindfulness session for adults run by BES member and qualified Mindfulness teacher and Counselling Psychologist, Talya Hilburn. On the same day, it will also be the start of an exciting new agenda for BES’s children’s and youth services, with a group of professionals from within the community working on the concepts of emotional wellbeing and resilience through the weekly parasha, bringing stories to life in age-appropriate ways for each age group.

Dr Friedman explained the thinking behind BES Cares: “As a community, we are affected by mental health problems as much as anyone else. At BES, we know that caring for others is vitally important. This strategy aims to support those with mental health needs, just as we support those with financial needs or physical illness. This is a long-term programme which will lead to us being a community that can weave in emotional wellbeing to our everyday talk; that can discuss mental health without fear of stigma; and ultimately, that can look after our own emotional wellbeing whilst being there to support those in need. It is part and parcel of being a community.”

BES Community Rabbi, Rabbi Alex Chapper, added: “I’m proud that as a community we’re being proactive and taking the lead in addressing the issue of mental health in all its guises. This strategy is absolutely critical to our community and furthers our commitment to having a comprehensive wellbeing provision for all our members, whether they need physical, spiritual, financial or emotional support.”