by Tamar Davis, CEO
It finally seems like spring is in the air in the Northeast, and I can feel my spirits naturally lift as summer approaches. During my first few seasons living up north, I remember fighting the inevitable deep dip in my mood every September when the air began to cool.
Though my seasonal mood swings become less severe the longer I live here, this experience was my personal introduction to the importance of mental health awareness, and it feels appropriate to bring up during Mental Health Awareness Month. There is a poignant quote from one of my favorite books in high school, The Bell Jar by Boston-born Sylvia Plath: “I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I’d cry for a week.” Sylvia Plath’s subtle, heart-wrenching words articulated an experience that I’ve had — of feeling low without a clear WHY— and assured me that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
This is exactly the purpose of National Mental Health Awareness Month: to make sure no one struggling with their mental health feels alone. In our Jewish tradition, we have a rich history of texts that depict loneliness and isolation. In the Book of Psalms, King David cries from the depths of loneliness and despair. Rav Soloveitchik, in his philosophical essay, The Lonely Man of Faith, states bluntly, “I am lonely because at times I feel rejected and thrust away by everybody, not excluding my most intimate friends…” Community. Belonging. Inclusion. This is at the heart of who we are as a Jewish people, and it’s up to us to pay attention and reach out to those who might be feeling isolated.
I hope you’ll join me this month in reading an artist’s personal blog post on mental health, attending our mental health webinar on the topic of addiction, or seeing how our Jewish community is changing the conversation on mental health. Thank you for helping to have open, honest conversations and destigmatize what it means to struggle with mental health this month and every month.
Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer