On the Occasion of World Mental Health Day
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme organized a workshop entitled” After 14 Month of the War…..the Situation of Mental Health in Gaza Strip”
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme organized a workshop entitled” after 14 months of the war…the situation of mental health in the Gaza Strip”,
with participation of a number of professionals in the psychosocial field and representatives from MOH, local and international health organizations and academics. The workshop took place at the Roots Restaurant in Gaza city.
The workshop was steered and initiated by Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, GCMHP’s Director General, who highlighted the activities and clinical services of GCMHP provided to different target groups in the three community centers, particularly children and women. Dr. Abu Jamei clarified that after six month of the war, the children who received services and were diagnosed with PTSD were 51%, and after 10 month, the percentage was reduced to be only 41%. Dr. Abu Jamei emphasized that Israel does not abide by the international law and treaties when dealing with the Palestinian population, especially children and women.
Dr. Abu Jamei added that GCMHP, through this workshop, is focusing on the reality of mental health in Gaza Strip, stressing that the suffering of people continues after one year from the last offensive on Gaza strip. None of the children, whose houses were destroyed completely, went back to his/her home, rubbles are all over the places in the Gaza Strip, and the reconstruction process is moving very slowly. He’s also pointed to its psychological and social effects on the Palestinian people who are still waiting for their living conditions to improve. Whereby the Programme worked on showing this suffering by conducting research activities, organizing international conferences and workshops. In this regards, Dr. Yasser Abu – Jamei announced Gaza Community Mental Health Programme 6th International Conference entitled" Mental Health and Human Rights in Palestine – Enhancing Resilience and Hope" which will be on 19- 20 April 2016.
Moreover, Dr. Hasna'a El- Sharif, the Head of Chronic Disease Department at Ministry of Health presented a paper / abstract entitled " the Development of Mental Health services in the Gaza Strip". She pointed that it’s impossible to separate between the mind and body she added . Organic, inorganic, psychological and social diseases should be dealt with equally. Therefore according to the ministry of health its really important to adopt integrating the mental health and dealing with it in the primary care because its considered as the “body gate guard” she said.
Dya Saymah WHO representative, presented a paper entitled “Mental Health Services in Palestine from WHO Perspective”. He emphasized the importance of legislation that ensure the protection of people with mental illness in their right to live in dignity in the Palestinian community and practicing their legitimate rights in receiving treatment, education, being equally treated in employment and others.
Dr. Saymah explained that the need for such mental health services is increasing, especially with the ongoing aggressions, but such services are rarely available in the poor countries .Those services are not available for those suffering from such problems because it’s not supported by governments whereby mental health is not on its working list as they have other priorities they are working on. He pointed to an international study conducted in the year 2011, which states that 230 million dollars were spent between the years 2007- 2009 on programs organized to face psychological and social impact of wars. This fund is often spent on short projects and not on governments’ framework for funding international and foreign institutions.
Whereby the governmental expense is simple, showing that the crisis sometimes is a chance for bringing more resources for this country to develop its services and to have more fund.
Noting that WHO has published a book on the year 2012 which contains ideas, and mechanisms for reconstruction. The organization has devoloped 6 themes from it, the crisis will be a chance to something better than before the crisis.
Mr. Hasan Zeyada, the Head of Gaza Community Center at the Programme presented a paper entitled “The Mental Health situation in the Gaza Strip One Year after the last Offensive on the Gaza Strip”.
“We are facing a deteriorating and a harsh reality , therefore ,we are in great need to regain our dignity in general,,,, those who fight for Mental health fight for Human Rights “. Mr. Zeyada said, he also called to give those people suffering from psychological disorders more attention so that they can regain their self-confidence.
Mr. Zeyada stressed that GCMHP intervention didn’t start with the last offensive, but GCMHP has previous interventions in the last wars of 2008 and 2012. Whereby research study results that the Programme conducted after the war2012 shows that some of children who faced a traumatic event are still suffering from PTSD and they are in need for a specialized psychological intervention. He made clear that the Programme benefited from its previous work experience through renewing the ways and methods of suitable intervention training crisis intervention teams working at the Programme and increasing the number of professionals working in these teams . He pointed out that one of the most important Programme’s strategies is building the capacities for those working in the community mental health by providing them with training courses in order to provide people with special mental health services and increase their awareness on mental health issues.
At the end of the workshop, the participants stressed on the great need for developing the services provided despite difficulties related to emergency intervention; Stressing on the importance of conducting the training and the needed professional care for the cadres working in this field, in addition to looking for mechanisms which helps to increase the number of people working in this field and varying their experiences. In addition to that the participants stressed on the importance of focusing on the marginalized people such as orphans, disabled people, those living on the borders. With continued mutual coordination based on integration between mental health services providers in order to benefit a large number of people in a situation where there is lack in the services and resources.