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Big Data, Big Solutions

Eytan Kobre

The Jewish community has gotten used to relying on anecdotal evidence and conjecture when it comes to pressing mental health issues like depression, OCD, and anxiety. But that’s not good enough, says Dr. Yitzchak Schechter, so he’s built an institution utilizing big data to dispel the myths.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Everyone knows that religious people are at higher risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder.   Everyone knows that a great majority of kids-at-risk were abused.   Everyone knows that chassidishe people are more loath than others to seek help for mental health issues.   But what if what everyone knows… is wrong?   If Dr. Yitzchak Schechter, director of the Center for Applied Psychology (CAPs) mental health clinic at Monsey’s Bikur Cholim, has one message to convey to the frum community, it’s that to accurately answer questions like these, a little humility and a lot of data can go a long way. He’s determined to move the most important questions facing Torah-observant individuals, families, and communities — issues like how to stem the rising tide of divorce, what underlies the phenomenon of alienated frum Jews, and, if there is a shidduch crisis, what are the solutions — out of the realm of “Shabbos table talk” based on conjecture and spotty data, and instead expose them to the bright spotlight of rigorous statistical and analytical research, so that the community can make informed decisions and solve the problems it faces. To that end, he has created the ARCC Institute, which stands for Applied Research and Community Collaboration. The institute’s impact on both communal decision-making and the lives of real people is already being felt, one research study at a time.

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