(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A mental health self-help charity, created and run by people with a range of
mental disabilities, called on Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac
Herzog last week to take responsibility for their treatment and assist with
tackling the stigmas against them, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
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times people with mental disabilities are dealing with issues that should be
taken care of by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.
single-mothers, live in extreme poverty and are often chronically unemployed,”
Ari Yardeni, Chairman of Lishma, a non-profit organization that promotes
integration and empowerment for people with mental health disorders, told The
Currently, services for the mentally ill are
under the responsibility of the Health Ministry, but according to Yardeni, who
suffers from bipolar disorder and depression, treatment should be provided by
the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services.
“The ministry already runs
hostels and sheltered housing for the mentally ill, as well as clubs and other
community projects, we want to join them further and create more projects and
services for the mentally ill,” he said.
“We want to be treated like
normal [people],” he said.
In response, Herzog told Yardeni and the other
two representatives of Lishma that it was unlikely that the task of caring for
the mentally ill would be transferred from the Health Ministry to his
Many times people suffering from mental health disorders need
medication or hospitalization, which is the direct responsibility of the Health
Ministry, explained Ministry of Welfare and Social Services Deputy Director
General, Menachem Wagshal.
Herzog suggested that Lishma work together
with the National Insurance Institute, which bestows disability allowances to
those with mental health problems, to create more rehabilitative services for
the mentally ill.
Yardeni, however, said he hoped that social services
could do more to reduce the misconceptions surrounding mental
“There is such a stigma tied to mental health,” Shula Ben- Daat
Alperovitch, a personal coach who works with Lishma told the minister. “There
are many people who believe that everyone with such problems is likely to go out
and murder their families. We need your support in trying to combat such
negative images,” she said.
Ben-Daat Alperovitch was referring to an
incident in July, during which a Netanya man, Itai Ben-Dror, stabbed his three
small children to death claiming that he heard voices in his head telling him to
“This was very upsetting,” Yardeni said Sunday, highlighting that
these stereotypes damage all people with mental health disabilities.
statistics show that the percentage of people with mental problems who are
likely to do a thing like this is very, very low,” he continued. “The media just
looks for good headlines but in reality those with mental health disorders are
more likely to be the victims of violence and crime than the other way
Even so, said Yardeni, “people are scared of us and we want to
change this image.”
Established in 2006, Lishma’s (www.lishma.co.il)
activities were renewed only about six months ago. According to Yardeni, the
organization is the only one in Israel run by people with mental health
disabilities for people with mental health disabilities. Others, such as Enosh,
are run by medical and welfare professionals.
Roughly 100,000 people in
Israel are estimated to suffer from mental health disabilities, with a little
more than half receiving government disability allowances.