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In late 2019, McLean representatives met with more than 20 hospitals, universities, museums, municipalities, health care organizations, and others in Israel to discuss ways to highlight the importance of mental health.
McLean is partnering with Stuart Katz, the CEO of TAL Tours and a longtime advocate for humanitarian, mental health, and environmental causes, to bring mental health education and anti-stigma programming to the Middle East. Katz saw McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma display at Logan Airport in 2018 while his daughter was receiving care at McLean, inspiring him to contact the hospital about bringing the program to Israel.
“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.
Plans are underway to bring the stigma campaign to Israel in the coming months. “There is great enthusiasm for the project, and we are starting at the perfect time,” Katz said.
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. Findings include:
Only 13% of respondents to another recent study said they would seek professional treatment if they felt anxious or tense. Rather, the respondents said they would seek help immediately if they experienced a symptom associated with severe psychiatric illnesses.