Professor Rael Strous, world renowned psychiatrist and Director of the Psychiatry Wing of the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, describes the groundbreaking revolution that defines the establishment of a psychiatric inpatient facility specifically adapted to the Torah-observant community: “Both in regard to the medical team and the physical conditions, there is nothing that comes even close to what is being offered here.”
The previous issue of Bizness Magazine featured a fascinating interview with Dr. Moshe Rothschild, founder and director of Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. During the interview, Dr. Rothschild mentioned his revolutionary new project: a psychiatric inpatient facility that is specially adapted to the Torah-observant community. It is the first mental health center of its kind in the world. Unfortunately, despite the high prevalence of mental illness, there is often a stigma of shame surrounding it, which can lead those affected to conceal or deny it. This is especially true in the Orthodox community. The paralyzing fear of “what people will say” prevents many from seeking treatment which could potentially allow them to lead a normal – or mostly normal – life. Over the last few years, however, awareness of the need to treat mental disorders has grown, along with the understanding that this will assist not only the suffering patient, but also his family members. This awareness has led more and more patients to seek treatment.
Mayanei Hayeshua’s Mental Health Wing – named “Marbe Daat” by the leading rabbinical authority, Rav Chaim Kanievsky – has been stirring a silent but powerful revolution within the Orthodox community. The men’s short-term inpatient ward opened one year ago, and two additional inpatient wards, one for women and one for pediatrics, will open shortly. These new departments will join the other services currently offered at the center: outpatient clinics, a Day Care floor and a unique Family Therapy Unit designed like an apartment. All the wards will offer gender-segregated inpatient services for a few weeks, after which patients can return home to continue their journeys toward mental health. The new seven-story building is meticulously designed to combine visual aesthetics with technological function and utility. Some of the greatest experts in relevant fields serve as managers in the center. The cornerstone for the new building was laid in 2011, and despite tight deadlines and serious limitations, the massive building was erected over the following five years. Three of its floors are already in service.
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Rothchild, founder and president of Mayanei Hayeshua, describes what led him to open the center: “The mental illnesses so prevalent nowadays are related, among other things, to the stresses of life. In the past decade, since we began providing professional treatment to people who struggle with mental illness, we have treated over 23,000 individuals, some of them receive ongoing support to this day. 10% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. There are hundreds of thousands of people who need treatment. The public is not aware of the extent of the problems, which exist in all the educational institutions, from elementary schools to yeshivahs, high schools and higher education institutions. Sometimes, emotional damage caused by classmates or the educational staff can haunt patients for years. The need is tremendous… and there was not one medical center or hospital in the world that met the needs of a Torah-observant patient.”
MEET PROFESSOR STROUS
50-year old Prof. Rael Strous, born and educated in South Africa, serves as the director of Mayanei Hayeshua’s Mental Health Wing. He studied psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and then at the Harvard Medical School in Boston. In 1998 Strous moved to Israel, spent a year studying Torah and then began to work at the psychiatric medical center in Beer Yaakov. He served as the department head and then as deputy director of the hospital. Prof. Strous’s specializations include psychiatric medication (psycho-pharmacology), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, anxiety and much more.
Professor Strous proudly declares: “Mayanei Hayeshua’s Mental Health Wing offers the best accommodations in Israel. Both as far as the medical team and the physical conditions, there is nothing that comes even close to what is offered here. It’s like a five-star hotel in comparison to other facilities. There are twenty-four beds (12 rooms) in the ward. Each spacious room has a full private bathroom and shower. Our dedicated, highly trained professional staff includes psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, doctors, nurses and social workers. In addition to standard treatments, every department offers occupational therapy, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, gardening therapy and pet therapy. There is also a computer room and a gym staffed with fitness instructors. There is an extraordinary atmosphere here. Another important factor is that we never engage in coercion. Everything is done with the patient’s consent, and the rooms are always open.”
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
Mayanei Hayeshua’s Mental Health Wing is open to everyone, but the atmosphere and schedule follow Jewish law, and varied programming is available for Torah observant patients. According to Prof. Strous, Torah study sessions are often beneficial to the healing process. The professor is effusive in his assertion that the Mental Health Wing constitutes exciting news to the Orthodox community. “The new wards enable patients to receive appropriate treatment in a familiar atmosphere. Because of this, we have welcomed patients from abroad. There is a huge demand, and thankfully we are already seeing excellent results in the 12 months since the Wing opened.” The high-caliber team of doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists is in constant contact with Mayanei Hayeshua’s halachic committee, which includes some of the most respected names in the Orthodox Jewish community: Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky; Rabbi Nissim Karelitz; Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein – who serves as Chairman of the committee – and other important rabbinic figures such as Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein and Rabbi Sriel Rosenberg. The rabbi of the Medical Center, Rabbi Yosef Baruch Hoffner, also serves as the intermediary and executive halachic authority.
For more information about Mayanei Hayeshua, visit their website at www.afmhmc.org.