The Marcus Foundation has awarded a $3.2 million grant to Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) for supporting mental health across the spectrum of Jewish camps in North America. Funding will be awarded to approximately sixty camps over four years in an unprecedented effort to increase services, capabilities and awareness in addressing the growing mental, emotional and social health (MESH) needs among their communities.
The new initiative will be known as “Yedid Nefesh: Nurturing Mental, Emotional, and Social Health at Jewish Camp.” Yedid Nefesh, (translated as Beloved Soul) refers to a multi-faceted, whole-person approach to wellness for individuals and as a connected community. Funding will be distributed to support camps’ hiring qualified mental health professionals, enhance counselor training, integrate wellness programming into activity areas and develop new ways to create cultural change within their camp communities year-round.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 13% of children between ages 8-15 (the prime age range of campers across North America) experience a severe mental disorder, and of those children, barely more than 50% receive mental health services. According to research shared by the National Council of Behavioral Health, 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24 (National Institute of Mental Health, 2005), the age range of the majority of overnight and day camp staff.