Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mental Health Needs in Gaza, Post One

Maybe--just maybe--the destruction of Gaza has stopped, but the situation in Gaza remains overwhelming and will for some time. The trauma has not ended, not by a long chalk, as Gazans begin to take stock of the loss of loved ones, homes, farms, orchards, and civic buildings. Now will come the experiences of acute trauma: the sleeplessness (and/or nightmares when one is able to sleep); irritability and mood swings; difficulties with concentration and attention; guilt and anger. And that's not all--many physical symptoms attend acute trauma as well; chest pains, dry mouth, nausea, hyperventilation, headaches, dizziness and other signs of stress are quite common. Some of those who experience these symptoms will strain Gaza's hospitals, as acute stress can sometimes mimic life-threatening problems such as heart attack, or trigger problems in those already medically vulnerable. Today Taghreed El-Khodary of Gaza City had this to say:
But all of a sudden I don't know why I'm crying, I just keep remembering all these women, the mothers, the fathers, that I interviewed who lost their loved ones and I don't now what kind of life they are going to have after this. I remember those people who I interviewed, they lost parts of their bodies. How are they going to survive this? If anyone wants to help those people, the victims, the civilians, I think one must consider sending therapists. There are many children that are extremely traumatised, the people in Gaza City, in the north are extremely traumatized.
(And see Eva Bartlett's post here.)

Where are people to go for services? The Gaza Community Mental Health Center was completely destroyed early on in the Israeli invasion of Gaza. I understand that efforts are underway to help rebuild this center, and will add a post with links, once I find out the most efficient way to make contributions. For now, I want to leave you with these two wonderful videos from Al Jazeera about one Palestinian psychologist's efforts in Gaza. The film was made in November; altogether another time and space.

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