Conference has helped reduce stigma of mental illness in Jewish community over the years

JFCS’ and JFS’ Annual Twin Cities Mental Health Educational Conference helps those living with mental illness realize they are not alone


When someone contacts JFCS for help related to mental health, we have teams of clinically trained professionals who take a holistic approach to each situation. From Counseling and Mental Health Support Services to Career Services and financial assistance, JFCS has the ability to provide comprehensive, individualized services for people living with mental illness, as well as for the people who care for them.


However, in addition to helping individuals living with mental illness, JFCS strives to reduce the stigma of mental illness through community-wide educational events. One of the largest ones we do each year is the Twin Cities Mental Health Education Conference.


Melody Moezzi

JFCS and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) co-sponsor the conference each fall – this year’s event is Oct. 22 and features Melody Moezzi, Iranian-American activist, award-winning writer and attorney, and author of Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.


The Annual Mental Health Conference was created in 2001 to raise awareness of the fact that mental health issues are as common in the Jewish community as they are in the broader community. “In the years before the conference, the subject was pretty much taboo,” said Laurie Kramer, who co-founded the event and still organizes it every year. “Jewish families who had problems tried to keep them secret, leaving family members feeling isolated and alone.”


She pointed out that the Conference has been very well attended since the beginning, and this is critical to reducing the stigma of mental illness. “When 500-plus people come together to learn and to give and get support, they understand that whatever they are dealing with, they are not alone,” she said.


In addition to Melody’s keynote address, this year’s conference features two breakout sessions of workshops with 22 topics to choose from, covering mental health issues affecting youth to people in the later stages of life. Workshop topics include dementia, addiction, eating disorders, anxiety and depression, mental health advocacy, yoga psychotherapy, and many more.


JFCS, JFS, and Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis are also hosting a separate event, “Learning from Each Other: An Interfaith Conversation on Mental Health,” on Oct. 23 at Mt Olivet (5025 Knox Ave. S., MPLS). Moezzi will also speak at this event, which is open to clergy of all faiths, congregational staff and lay leaders interested in mental health issues.


JFCS’ array of services for those living with mental illness is available year-round. To register for this year’s Mental Health Education Conference click here.