yaacov litzman 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Israel’s 10-year-old law establishing a basket of services for rehabilitating
psychiatric patients in the community has produced “greater accomplishments”
since 2000 than New York State and the entire US have achieved during the same
period, Dr. Michael Hogan, commissioner of his state’s Office of Mental Health,
said in Jerusalem on Monday.
He was speaking at a daylong conference at
Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, organized by the Health Ministry to
mark the 10th anniversary of the law’s passage. Over 1,000 people from the field
“Imagine that you have only begun,” said Hogan, who disclosed
that part of his motivation for entering the field was that his brother suffers
“You cannot imagine what you will achieve in the next
10 years. Dream high, and you will achieve much more,” he assured the
Hogan said that a major change has occurred, in which
psychiatric patients are now regarded as having good potential for
This word, he stressed, no longer refers only to the symptoms
of serious mental illness going away, but also with people – despite some
symptoms treated mostly with medications – being able to have normal lives and
“We who work in hospitals and clinics don’t see those who
don’t come back because of the progress they have made. We see only those people
who are still sick,” the American psychiatrist said.
“While not all will
be cured, don’t give up on anyone.
Mental health recovery is a journey,
not an outcome.
This understanding requires a new approach to care. It is
not just treating symptoms.”
The bill, described at the conference as
“one of Israel’s most important pieces of social legislation and among the most
advanced in the world,” was initiated by then-MK Tamar Gozansky (Hadash), who
was present on Monday and hailed by the audience for her work on mental health
and other social issues.
Until the law was implemented, people with
psychiatric illnesses were entitled to medical treatment but had no rights to
social, occupational, housing and other services, and there was no set budget
for this. Hogan, who is in charge of services in New York State that serve a
population four times that of Israel’s with an annual budget of $5 billion at
his disposal, lauded Israel’s “remarkable achievements in mental health
rehabilitation in the community.”
The community assistance programs were
initiated and supervised by Yehiel Shereshevsky, a psychologist dubbed “Mr.
Rehabilitation,” who has for many years managed the ministry’s mental health
rehabilitation efforts in the community. He plans to move on next
Former health minister Nissim Dahan (Shas), who was instrumental in
promoting the law’s implementation during his short tenure at the ministry, was
a panel member at the conference. Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman
(United Torah Judaism) was among those dignitaries who greeted the
participants.A feature on the Health Ministry conference will appear on
the Health & Science Page on Sunday.