Ruderman grant brings mental health services to local Jewish teens, young adults

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Ruderman grant brings mental health services to local Jewish teens, young adults

A newly announced $320,000 multi-year grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation will enable the BaMidbar organization to bring its unique mental health approach and adventure-based clinical therapy to Jewish teenagers and young adults in the Boston area.

Colorado-based BaMidbar’s clinical programs support Jewish teens and young adults struggling with mental health challenges through individual and group therapy that is rooted in an experiential pedagogy and Jewish tradition. In partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, BaMidbar will expand its programming beyond Colorado for the first time by establishing a regional hub, staffed by a program director and licensed mental health professionals. BaMidbar’s novel approach encourages collaboration with other Jewish organizations in the Boston area operating in the mental health sphere.

Through the Ruderman Family Foundation grant, BaMidbar also will partner with Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), with the Boston expansion piloting a new model for the two organizations. Given BaMidbar’s goal to fortify the microsystem of support and JF&CS’s focus on parents and caregivers, the two organizations are partnering to provide services for a combined wider range of the population. Ba-Midbar and JF&CS are committed to cross- referring between BaMidbar’s teen and young adult focused therapy services and JF&CS’s parent and caregiver services. Both organizations will share resources with all clients that fall within the other organization’s target population, addressing the needs of families in a holistic manner.

“We are excited to partner with esteemed partners like BaMidbar and JF&CS to address the surging mental health challenges among youths, which represents a crucial responsibility for any community, including ours here in Boston,” said Sharon Shapiro, trustee and community liaison at the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We’re seeing a growing need for the Jewish community in relation to mental health resources following a spike in antisemitism across the U.S. in recent months. We do not take this responsibility lightly, and therefore we were determined to connect this region’s Jewish teenagers and young adults with the immense benefits of BaMidbar’s innovative clinical programs.”

Against the backdrop of the mental health crisis among youths and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, BaMidbar reports that its programming grew more than four-fold. Recently, the organization also has expanded access by beginning to accept insurance for its therapy services. Translated as “in the wilderness,” BaMidbar provides therapeutic experiences that are rooted in the Jewish camping movement and are often held outdoors.

“The Jewish community has an important role to play in addressing the youth mental health crisis,” said Jory Hanselman Mayschak, founder and CEO of BaMidbar. “With generous support from the Ruderman Family Foundation, BaMidbar is expanding therapeutic services for Jewish teens and young adults in the Boston community and partnering with JF&CS to strengthen young people’s ecosystem of support.”

“In the last year, JF&CS helped more than 3,000 people address a mental health issue. And a staggering 40 percent of the calls to our mental health help line were about a child, teenager, or young adult,” said Gail Schulman, CEO of JF&CS. “In response to this overwhelming need, JF&CS is developing expanded services to help parents and caregivers support their kids. Through parent workshops, clinical consultation, system navigation and advocacy, we’re helping families find help in an imperfect mental health system. This work requires close collaboration with trusted organizations, and both BaMidbar and the Ruderman Family Foundation are critical partners.” Θ

If interested in BaMidbar’s services, please go to bamidbartherapy.org/contact-us. If interested in JF&CS’s services, please go to jfcsboston.org/no-one-alone.

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