Amongst the thirty-two departments which currently exist within the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Centre campus, the Mental Health Centre is housed in a completely separate, state-of-the-art, seven story building. Recognizing the very diverse nature of the Israeli population, Mayanei Hayeshua’s Mental Health Centre is committed to providing the highest level psychiatric treatment in a manner that is both culturally sensitive and effectively supports each and every individual patient – irrespective of specific background or mental health issues.
The Mental Health Centre was designed to accommodate an array of departments and gender-separated facilities and allows for additional departments as deemed necessary. The current departments provide both inpatient and outpatient facilities including separate wards for men and women, a day care unit, outpatient clinics, a paediatric psychiatry unit, an in-patient eating disorders unit and a family therapy unit. A wide range of therapies are offered including occupational therapy, cooking therapy, music therapy, gardening therapy, psycho-drama therapy, illness self-management therapy, self-awareness and self-image therapy. Each inpatient floor has a gym and this has become one of the most popular daily activities. Across all departments and clinics – whether in-patient or out-patient – the Mental Health Centre staff are dedicated to gaining a clear understanding of patients’ needs and then developing an optimum treatment plan for each individual patient.
Professor Rael Strous, Medical Director of the Mental Health Centre, is one of the key driving forces behind the success of the unit. One of Israel’s leading psychiatrists and a full-time professor at the University Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Professor Strous has been extremely effective in both establishing and developing the Mental Health Centre. He is also a renowned, internationally sought-after speaker in the field of psychiatry. Continuing the vision of Dr. Moshe Rothschild z”l, Professor Strous and the entire Mental Health Centre staff facilitate the needs of the community in a unique and groundbreaking manner. Their ultimate goals are:
- To provide treatment which will help resolve underlying mental health issues and ultimately rehabilitate patients back into family and/or community structures.
- To ensure that each patient successfully works through his/her individual treatment plan while being supported by the professional staff as well as family and loved ones.
- To take each individual under their care ‘from illness to wellness.’
In response to the alarmingly high increase in eating disorders within the Orthodox and secular communities – most especially anorexia nervosa – an Eating Disorders ward was opened.
Although teenage anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses, only 10% of those with this illness actually seek treatment for it. Since its inception, the Eating Disorders Unit has been oversubscribed and there have been many incredible recovery stories : ‘M’- to protect her privacy – relayed her experiences as follows: ‘It was a long, incredible journey…for years I starved myself…I tried to kill myself a few times and almost succeeded.’ M, having been in many programs, in America and Israel, went on to say ‘it was finally at Mayanei Hayeshua I felt like I can get really healthy – really well’. When asked ‘Why?’, M responded ‘I realized, the MH Staff cares much more about me than I care about myself… little by little, I started to believe there’s something about me that’s worthwhile.’ While ‘M’ understands she has a good deal more to do before she re-enters the ‘real world’, she says ‘I feel really blessed’. M attributes her newfound ’happiness,’ belief in herself, and a desire to ‘do good things for my family and for the world’, to the consistently caring treatment I was given by the MH Eating Disorders Staff.
The story of ‘Y’ is similarly astonishing. By the age of twenty Y had given up all hope of living. She suffered with suicidal ideation and a severe eating disorder. She had no interest in recovering, to the extent that during the early stages of her stay in the in-patient program, the Staff were seriously concerned that she may never recover. Nevertheless, Y’s team of medical and psychiatric experts worked diligently with her and, against all odds, Y was discharged to a halfway house. She has successfully moved on to her next step on the way to total recovery. While she still requires care and monitoring, Y departed from the ‘miracle workers’ at Mayanei Hayeshua a completely transformed young woman – emotionally and physically.
In the four short years since it opened, the Mayanei Hayeshuah Mental Health Centre has already established a reputation for pioneering excellence in Israel’s mental health arena.
According to Israel’s Ministry of Health, this mental health facility has both the shortest average stay in the country and the lowest percentage of patients being readmitted for further treatment. Following a visit to the Mental Health Centre, the chairperson of the Knesset’s health committee announced “We are recommending to the Minister of Health that Mayanei Hayeshua Mental Health Centre should serve as a model for all psychiatric facilities in Israel”.
From illness to wellness
Some facilities at the Mental Health Centre. From bottom left, the Snoezelen therapy unit, family therapy and eating disorders unit, and Prof. Strous.