EU Supports Gaza Mental Health Services with €600,000

JERUSALEM, February 23, 2013 (WAFA) – The European Union announced a new €600,000 grant to improve mental health services in the Gaza Strip, a press statement said on Thursday.

The grant, which involves the International Medical Corps, Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), is designed to improve the training of medical staff and promote the well-being of local communities as part of the “Self Help – Self Heal” program.

“Research has shown that living conditions in Gaza – such as restricted movement, reduced access to education and health care, poverty and unemployment – can create stress and feelings of isolation and ultimately impact on the level of mental disorders within the population there,” said the statement.

“According to the UN, psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in the Gaza Strip has dramatically risen following the escalation of violence last November. The recently-launched ‘Self Help – Self Heal’ program has been specifically designed to target populations living under prolonged conflict conditions and will empower people in Gaza to take care of their own individual and family mental health needs,” said the EU statement.

“The EU has been working with Palestinian civil society for many years to guarantee appropriate mental health care for those in need in the Gaza Strip as well as in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory,” said the EU Representative, John Gatt-Rutter.

“Thanks to this new grant we will be able to promote more effective methods to deal with severe emotional and mental distress within the population in Gaza,” he added, stressing that the EU’s work “must go hand in hand with efforts by all partners to restore normal socioeconomic and living conditions in the Gaza Strip.”

By training parents and caregivers and setting up peer support groups, the EU and International Medical Corps will help families to manage the mental health consequences of life in the Gaza Strip, said the statement.

The impact of the program will be multiplied by training Palestinian health care and rehabilitation staff and other professionals in Gaza to deliver this level of support and training to families affected by mental health issues, it added.

The program will reach more than 2,300 people through community centers in the Gaza Strip and more than 230 health professionals will receive training.

Establishing stronger community support networks for people in need of mental healthcare services in Gaza is in line with the 2010-15 ‘Plan of Organization of Mental Health Services in the occupied Palestinian territory’ and with global World Health Organization (WHO) policy guidelines.

Since 2010, the EU has invested almost €4 million to work in partnership with the Ministry of Health as well as WHO and Palestinian NGOs to improve mental health in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Moreover, in the Gaza Strip, the EU supports UNRWA in providing health services to Palestine refugees and provides psychosocial support mainly to children through its humanitarian assistance office (ECHO).

Source: WAFA News