Chabad’s Wellness Institute has big ambitions

June 18, 2021

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


The Wellness Institute, a new mental health organization created by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and focused on young people, became a critical supplier of training and materials to the Jewish community during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with the need for such services still in high demand, it plans to produce more materials and help to set up local clinical boards, Rabbi Efraim Mintz, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute’s executive director, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

Launched in December 2019 with a focus on providing in-person training and expert support for professionals who work with children, the institute is a division of JLI. The pandemic intensified the need for its services, which both enabled the organization to expand its reach and inspired it to broaden its mission, said Rabbi Zalman Abraham, the institute’s director.

JLI was created about 20 years ago to create an educational component for Chabad-Lubavitch’s network of university Chabad houses, which were known at the time more for holiday parties and Shabbat dinners, said Mintz. It now offers hundreds of courses on such topics as Jewish ritual, history and spirituality, in addition to legal and medical ethics and psychology classes accredited by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and many state bar associations that can be counted toward continuing education requirements. The Wellness Institute was an outgrowth of JLI’s offerings for psychologists and other mental health professionals, through which JLI became involved in issues of youth and mental health.

The pandemic exacerbated those problems, said Abraham, citing research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found that mental health-related pediatric emergency room visits in 2020 increased by 24% among children ages 5-11 and 31% among children ages 12-17 compared with 2019.

The institute now aims both to upgrade the Jewish community’s suicide prevention mechanisms and to help the community think about youth and mental health in a more expansive way that it hopes will lessen the need for crisis intervention.

“This is not only about suicide prevention,” Mintz said. “It’s about meaning, about a healthy sense of purpose.”

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Jul. 01, 2021