June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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There can be nothing more tragic than a mental illness. Frequently, after a difficult day at the office, Mordechai would discuss his frustration over the severity of mental illnesses that interferes with a person’s everyday functionality. How many times did he say that a mental illness far surpasses the devastation of a physical illness? The significant difference is that one is usually more “out there” and the other is not discussed at all. We are not that far from the days when people would not mention the word cancer. Unfortunately, that attitude still exists among some people. Similarly, when it comes to a mental illness, which in many cases is invisible, no one talks. These are literally the sounds of silence that the immediate family of the person who is suffering lives with on a daily basis.

There are no scripts or preparation for a family when a young person displays signs of a mental disorder. In many cases, excuses are made, even in the most intelligent people’s minds, as to why a child, adolescent or young adult is exhibiting behaviors that are inconsistent with the norm. We run to the doctor for a bruised finger, a swollen ankle or a fever, but when it comes to acknowledging that a person’s problem might be an emotional or mental disorder, we hesitate. Many family members choose to close their eyes to symptoms that may be obvious to others. It is imperative that attitudes toward mental illness be radically changed.

The stigma is so great that when there is a support group that offers an oasis of retreat and consolation, people hesitate to attend for fear of “being known.”

There have been several cases in the community recently where families have openly discussed challenges they are having with their children’s mental health. It has opened a slight crack in the door to this mystery.

Keep in mind that mental illness shows its face in many different ways. A person who hoards things in a home or someone who cannot part with magazines from 20 years ago are suffering from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. There are treatments for these disorders, but many choose to do nothing except aggravate a partner or a child who finds it difficult to bring friends home when their household is in such disarray.

One does not have to be suicidal to have a mental illness. It takes many forms and shapes. The idea is to address it in its budding stage. Never again should a person have to be embarrassed to discuss these struggles. By educating the public and sharing challenges we will find ourselves in a much more open and accepting society.


Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected].

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