Psychological support is vital for Palestinians in Gaza, but the real problems are the occupation, blockade

The Palestine Trauma Centre in Gaza aim to empower children and their families to overcome their complex traumas [Palestine Trauma Centre]
The Palestine Trauma Centre in Gaza aim to empower children and their families to overcome their complex traumas

By Anjamun Rahman

People in Gaza suffer squashing psychological pressures due to severe financial deprivation, the continuous siege and over-crowded living conditions.

This is on top of having actually withstood 3 harsh wars over the previous years.Dr Mohamed Altawil, who established the Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC) in Gaza 13 years back, has actually studied the impacts of severe worry and stress and anxiety in the population.

He acknowledges the desperate requirement for more medical centers to handle physical injuries and conditions, but tensions the usually unrecognised significance of discovering more psychological health support systems in Gaza to alleviate the injury suffered within households.

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He makes use of his own experience as a kid in Gaza throughout the 1980 s and the subsequent pressures on his household today in order to trace the increasing misery and obstacles that individuals in Gaza deal with every day.

“I come from a poor family who still live as second and third generation refugees in the middle area of Gaza,” states Mohamed, who now lives in the UK. “As a child I was keenly aware of the need for freedom and justice in my country. With my brothers, I would run after armoured cars and soldiers, throwing stones and shouting. One day, I was shot and dragged to prison, all because I threw stones at soldiers.”

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After leaving his household house in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza, Mohamed established PTC Gaza in 2007, thought to be the very first centre of its kind in Palestine and in the Arabic- speaking world.

He specialises in psychological and cultural services for the ِArab and Muslim neighborhood in Britain and overseas, with a specific focus on injury, bereavement, anxiety and stress and anxiety.

“We provide psychological, social and specialised medical services for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have suffered and continue to suffer from the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. Our psychological work developed emergency response methods during the bombardments in 2008-9, 2012 and the invasion of 2014. These are now being adapted to deal with the threat of the COVID-19 virus.”

In the instant consequences of the 2014 war, WHO approximated that as much as 20 percent of the population of Gaza might have established psychological health conditions. According to UNICEF, more than 300,000 kids in Gaza needed some sort of psychosocial care.

Aid employees, consisting of authorities at the United Nations Palestinian refugee firm (UNRWA), caution of an extraordinary psychological health crisis unfurling throughout Gaza, intensified by a rise in violence over the in 2015 and financing cuts to vital support programs.

Furthermore, the 13- year Israeli blockade has actually seriously cut the lifestyle in Gaza, where youth joblessness now stands at 60 percent and poverty line increased from 30 to 50 percent.

The dispute in Palestine is something really unique from those happening in other nations in the area, as every kid in Gaza has actually matured seeing 3 Israeli offensives– 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014– that ravaged theStrip According to Mohamed, the moms and dads have actually been hardest struck.

“Even though it is the elderly, children or women who are mainly the focus of charities,” he states, “from my personal and professional experience, it’s the parents who are most vulnerable.”

“It is heartbreaking when, as a mother or father, you feel helpless after your child has been shot or injured and they’re bleeding to death while you can’t do anything.”

during a battle raid, you have no resources to safeguard the frightened kid who holds on to you. this extensive vulnerability can leave moms and dads susceptible to misery and unchecked anger.

“We believe the best therapy and treatment need to be made available to the people of Gaza who suffer not only from PTSD symptoms, but also from a form of ongoing trauma. We have found that psychosocial methods which incorporate cultural and historical elements of the Palestinian situation can aid resilience.”

As an outcome, he established Family and CommunityTherapy “One person suffering from PTSD in a family affects all the rest,” he states, “since household is the most reliable main system in the neighborhood. Intervention needs to take care of the household initially.

“We have psychiatrists, social employees, psychologists and nurses all of whom utilize a multi-sensory approach to handle injury. So it’s not simply all talk. Practical activities are vital throughout the interventions so they are physically empowered and durable adequate to seem like they can take care of themselves and in turn take care of their household.”

A series of research study studies that observed the impacts of war on Palestinian kids living in the Gaza Strip concluded that signs of anxiety, stress and anxiety and PTSD were popular among kids who had actually been exposed to significantly upsetting occasions, such as damage of their household home, seeing their household being killed, battles and the arrest of relative.

Attachment to parents and family members, which Mohamed explores in his research entitled ‘The Child, the Family and the Community: Overcoming Trauma in Gaza’, is a crucial factor in the way a child responds to a traumatic event in war or conflict.

Parents’ anticipation of the traumatic event, their reaction while it happens and the way they deal with it afterwards can increase or reduce the PTSD levels in children to a significant degree. “This is why a holistic understanding of Family Therapy can alleviate PTSD symptoms,” he explains.

However, it is an on-going struggle.

Mohamed says many sufferers avoid seeking help due to a failure to recognise mental illness or because there is a stigma associated with psychiatric treatment in a conservative society.

“Not everyone can be open about needing psychological help or psychotherapy,” Mohamed continues. “But the awareness has improved. Gradually, more Gazans are seeking treatment because we are careful about how we present the idea of therapy. We focus on somatic elements and use the term ‘support’.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “such support can only help to a limited extent, since it’s not possible for psychiatrists to combat the root problem: the stifling Israeli occupation and blockade.”

As he reflects on his decades-long journey dealing with this collective depression, he says the main objective of the Palestine Trauma Centre is to change the what Gaza’s streets mean to its residents.

“The streets of Gaza trigger a mental impression of destruction with memories of the smell of blood, broken limbs lying about, rubble and chaos. We have street activities on a Friday which aim to transform that image into something positive.”

“Every Friday, a team of performance artists along with therapists known as the ‘Joy Team’ go into different refugee camps to entertain children and families and bring them onto the streets for games, street theatre, clowning and dance. It is a community-building initiative developed to counter trauma and has proved to be very popular.”

The results of the initiative were instantly noticeable with some parents playing with their children for the first time, he explains. “Parents end up enjoying themselves more than the kids because they say how they were not lucky enough to have anything like this in their childhood.”

(Source / 11.07.2020)

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