McLean Hospital Collaborations in Israel
Public Awareness and Community Outreach
Stuart Katz, CEO of TAL Tours and founding director of OGEN – Association for the Advancement of Mental Health in Israel, saw McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma display at Logan Airport in 2018 while a family member was receiving care at McLean.
Inspired by what he had seen, he contacted the hospital about finding ways in which we could work together to address Israeli mental health. McLean has since partnered with him to help bring mental health education and anti-stigma programming to his home country of Israel.
“From my perspective, the problem of mental health stigma is worse in Israel than the U.S. because of the culture, the religion, and the ‘macho’ attitude,” Katz explained. However, he said that attitudes are shifting and enthusiasm for battling stigma is on the rise.
“We are excited to see continued increased interest in addressing it, which is very positive,” he said.
Thanks to the work done by Katz and our partners, we now have more than 20 Israeli lived experience stories on the Deconstructing Stigma website and in exhibits in the country.
“We are honored to have partnered with volunteers from Israel, who chose to be part of Deconstructing Stigma and share their stories in hopes of increasing mental health awareness, reducing stigma, and providing hope to individuals and families affected by mental health challenges,” said Scott J. O’Brien, director of Education Outreach for McLean and co-founder of Deconstructing Stigma.
“This campaign is about all of us. It’s about recognizing that each one of us—at some point in our lives—will experience mental health challenges. It’s about accepting that there is no shame in living with mental illness, that we are not alone in our struggles, and that it is OK to ask for help.”
Jerusalem College of Technology
McLean Hospital has collaborated with the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), to bring Deconstructing Stigma: Changing Attitudes About Mental Health to the JCT’s Tal and Lev Campuses and at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
The display features life-sized posters of individuals from across Israel with mental health challenges who volunteered to publicly and boldly share their personal struggles.
Katz helped spark the partnership between McLean and JCT and starting in 2020, the groups began working together to bring McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma project to JCT’s campuses. Dr. Zvika Orr, a senior lecturer at JCT’s Selma Jelinek School of Nursing, is spearheading the campaign at JCT.
Take a closer look at the JCT exhibit
The JCT iteration of Deconstructing Stigma actively engaged JCT fourth-year nursing students from Ofek, JCT’s special track for Haredi female students. These students were chosen to work on the campaign with the hope of making them agents of change in Israeli society.
- Studied theories and research regarding the stigmatization associated with mental health issues
- Conducted meetings and conversations with people from varied backgrounds who have been affected by mental illness
- Identified community members from diverse backgrounds to share their stories for the campaign
- Planned and designed the campaign with the community members
- Found potential sites to present the installations
- Created and promoted the installations
Deconstructing Stigma Research Project
JCT students are also carrying out a research project in collaboration with David H. Rosmarin, PhD, ABPP, from McLean Hospital and Steven Tzvi Pirutinsky, PhD, from Touro College.
The students are working in groups under the guidance of JCT’s Zvika Orr, PhD, receiving training on methodologies, reviewing literature, formulating research questions and hypotheses, data gathering and analysis, drawing conclusions, and preparing a research report.
The project aims to study the campaign’s impact on the lives of the participants who share their stories as well as on the attitudes of JCT’s students and staff toward mental illness.
JCT’s experience in this space derives largely from the Lev Bakehila Community Project, the college’s flagship civic engagement program. Founded in 2015, the program enables JCT students, faculty, and staff to promote the rights of people with disabilities in areas such as housing, education, employment, accessibility, due process, and equality.
Facts About Mental Health in Israel
In 2015, Israel reformed its approach to mental health by integrating mental health care into primary care.
A study looked at attitudes around mental health six months after the reform effort went into effect. Among the findings:
- Most individuals still felt uncomfortable seeking referral to mental health services through the public health system
- Arab Israelis have lower levels of comfort in seeking mental health care than Jewish Israelis
- More public education regarding mental illness is needed to address stigma
- Only 13% of respondents to another recent study said they would seek professional treatment if they felt anxious or tense but would seek help immediately if they felt they were in crisis due to a “severe” psychiatric illness