By Zvi Gluck
As National Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, we at Amudim have
recognized that the mental health-related crisis brought on by coronavirus has only just
begun. While we had hoped to see a drop in the volume of mental health related cases
as pandemic restrictions began to ease, exactly the opposite has happened.
Many people who have started adjusting to their new realities in the United States, Israel and in other parts of the world have found themselves struggling with issues that they may
have been too busy to focus on during the height of the outbreak. Domestic violence
victims who were quarantined with their abusers are only now beginning to seek help;
and the volume of calls from those struggling with addiction, who were at a higher risk of
relapse during the lockdown, has skyrocketed.
Hoping to address the mental health fallout from COVID-19, Amudim has released a PSA video titled “A Life Worth Living,” directed and produced by Yeeshai Gross, with screenwriting by our clinical advisory board. We have seen that our award-winning videos have been extremely effective tools in destigmatizing rarely discussed issues and educating the public on mental health struggles. “A Life Worth Living” is another weapon in our arsenal in the war against the ongoing crisis, one that we hope will have viewers realizing that help is just a phone call away.
Amudim’s caseload since the start of the coronavirus outbreak has increased 60
percent compared to the same time period last year, a statistic that is simply staggering.
The need for services, including hiring additional staff to handle the increased call
volume, helping those who cannot afford the cost of therapy or treatment, and
identifying housing or instituting safety measures for those who cannot live at home, has
gone up by percentages that no one in the world could have ever anticipated.
In addition to the calls to our office, Amudim’s newly launched anonymous support line has
fielded over 1,900 calls since its inception on March 22 nd and has proven to be a literal
lifesaver for those struggling with coronavirus related issues. Three quarters of those
callers have reported that their immediate mental health crisis was resolved in a single
conversation just by being able to speak with a licensed professional, while the
remainder have been referred for further care. Can we even begin to imagine just how
much more dire our current situation would be now if those individuals hadn’t had a free
support line available to them?
The crisis hasn’t only been limited to the United States. We expanded our support line by adding a dedicated number in Israel for English speakers staffed by English speaking mental health professionals. In the short time that it has been operational, our Israeli support line has already become an invaluable resource to the Anglo community, helping people cope during this trying time.
Even amid the darkness of COVID-19, we have been blessed to see so many positives
as our community has risen to the occasion by addressing issues of bereavement,
unemployment, hunger and many other incredible acts of kindness. Yet sadly, those
who are facing mental health issues, domestic violence and the challenges of recovery
have yet to be embraced by the mainstream, something that we have seen all too
clearly at Amudim. Others in the mental health field tell us that they have been
experiencing similar situations; and while there has been some mention of coronavirus-
related mental health issues in the media, it is clear that this particular aspect of the
pandemic is not getting the attention it deserves.
Over the last two and a half months, our dedicated staff and volunteers have redefined
the phrase “public service,” rising to the occasion despite the difficult realities that they
themselves were facing. It has also been inspiring to see the multiple organizations that
have joined together in myriad ways, working cohesively for the betterment of all
humanity; and we hope that the community at large will step up and do its part for those
who are in pain. As we close the door on National Mental Health Awareness Month, we
pray for an end to this crisis while we continue to do everything humanly possible to
raise awareness and destigmatize these issues so that those who are struggling can
hold their heads up high and seek help without fear.
Zvi Gluck is the CEO of Amudim, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims
and those suffering with addiction and mental health, and has been heavily involved in
crisis intervention and management for the past 20 years. For more information go