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"Lechol Nefesh": Equality in Mental Health Treatment in Israel

לכל נפש

Emotional distress is not rare, but proper treatment can be.

“I felt detached from reality and I was convinced that I had to warn the world about a catastrophe that was about to take place… there is a lot of noise, in a psychotic state. There's all these different forces telling you things that aren't necessarily connected to what's really going on/ the reality that surrounds you.”

“I came here because every month I felt like I wanted to die.”

An old Jewish proverb says that one who saves one life has in fact saved an entire world. We at Lechol Nefesh believe in the ability of long-term intensive psychotherapy to make a meaningful difference in the life of an individual suffering from intense and complex emotional distress. We need your help in order to continue our work..

The reality of public mental health care

“I had found myself on the street three times after being hospitalized. I didn’t have a home or a place to go. I wasn't taking my medications… it's like waking up in a deep hole you dug for yourself. And you're there at the bottom and the question is whether you have the rope to climb out or not.”

There are thousands of children and adults suffering from severe and complex emotional issues, which make their lives unbearable. Many are treated via public mental health services, and receive treatment that mainly consists of psychiatric medications and a limited number of therapy sessions. Although this treatment provides some relief, in many cases it only scratches the surface of the issues and does not address the mental and emotional issues of the individual in an in-depth and comprehensive manner. As a result, many individuals continue to suffer from emotional distress and social and occupational dysfunction, feeling isolated and detached from their surroundings.

Intensive psychotherapy

"These sessions give me the possibility to learn about myself deal with the delusions and the voices, because I have a partner in making this effort"

"Therapy helped me realize that I've been through these things already… the things that would drive me time after time to attempt suicide. I could now tell where it was coming from. And it's not obvious at all. I'd spent twenty nine years trying to figure it out, I wanted to know why it kept happening."

Intensive psychotherapy is long-term psychological treatment, in which sessions take place on a regular basis for an extended period. It is an in-depth treatment based on the therapeutic relationship, from which the client gains insights and the strength to cope with his or her issues. We, at Lechol Nefesh, believe that the integration of intensive psychotherapy, together with targeted treatment of the symptoms is the most effective treatment in these cases. Our experience demonstrates that intensive treatment relieves emotional distress and provides clients with a true opportunity to stay alive, to gain strength, to restore functioning and relationships and find meaning, value and pleasure in their lives. The success of the treatment is dependent on the client, the therapist and the relationship that is created between them, but no less important is the opportunity for the therapeutic process to fully realize its potential.

This treatment is not provided by public clinics today, and is only available when paid for privately. Privately, it is a very expensive treatment. This means that this essential and effective therapy for complex and deep-seated emotional distress is not available to many people who need it, not least for those from deprived socio-economic backgrounds. Lechol Nefesh believes that this treatment cannot regarded as a privilege, available only to those who can afford it.

Creating a new therapeutic reality

“It took months of trust-building for me to rely on my therapist, because at that point I had no faith in the system, or in people or in anything really... Therapy restored my faith in people because my therapist was unconditionally caring and empathetic. It's a kind of compassion that you don’t expect to find in institutions.”

Lechol Nefesh was established in 2010 by a group of psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers from Israel’s psychoanalytic society. Their goal is to change the reality of inequality in therapeutic treatment in Israel and to make intensive psychotherapy accessible to people being treated in Israel’s public mental health clinics.

At present, Lechol Nefesh in a joint cooperation with the non profit organization Association for Excellence in Psychiatric Rehabilitation (AEPR) provides therapy in two settings: at the adult outpatient clinic of the Yehuda Abarbanel Mental Health Center in Bat-Yam, and at the children outpatient clinic of the Community Mental Health Center in Jaffa, which treats 40 children, teenagers and adults.

It should be noted that our activity is monitored by a professional research team, which documents the long term impact of the intensive psychotherapy on the well-being and functioning of the clients, and also measures its cost-effectiveness. Lechol Nefesh will present the outcomes of its research to the Ministry of Health and the health plans, with the hope of changing the policy for care provided under the auspices of public mental health care clinics.

Your Donation

“Therapy has restored my life, and my children now have a loving and caring mother.”

“I re-discovered what it felt like to be heard. I can’t imagine myself regaining my capacity for compassion without the help that I got.”

The intensive psychotherapy provided by Lechol Nefesh includes three weekly sessions over the course of three years. The cost of an individual session is NIS 100, and the total cost is approximately NIS 10,000 per patient per year. This cost is low in contrast to the costs of private clinics, and that is due to the volunteer work provided by those who provide oversight and guidance to the therapists and the cooperation of Israel’s mental health service institutions.

Your donation is a lifeline for our clients, and enables more people in distress to get the help they need to relieve their pain, fear and isolation and renew their lives. We welcome your partnership in our project, and appreciate donations of all sizes.

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