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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article10 October 2018Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

How is your Mental Health? Improving psychosocial and mental health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

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Today, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the European Union (EU), the Palestinian Ministry of Health and Sharek Youth Forum, launched a campaign to raise awareness about mental health to mark the occasion of World Mental Health Day. Young Palestinians are bringing attention to the issues they face and the challenges of growing up in the occupied Palestinian territory. They want to begin a conversation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip about what young people can do to grow up healthy and resilient in the face of high levels of violence and protracted conflict.

WHO and the Palestinian Ministry of Health have planned a workshop in the coming weeks for the Student Parliament, which represents 34 schools from across the West Bank. The workshop aims to assist these students in developing activities to carry out in schools to raise awareness on how to protect mental health in the face of everyday challenges. A counsellor at each school will oversee the student events and activities. In Gaza, Palestinian authorities will provide 200 students with awareness raising sessions on mental health. In addition, several short videos and posters will carry messages from adolescents and experts on mental wellbeing and healthy lifestyles.

Under the theme “My Mental Health First”, the WHO, the EU and the Palestinian Ministry of Health had celebrated their partnership to improve mental health already last year. Funded through the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) a project addresses important gaps in the development of Palestinian mental health services, particularly in relation to the mental health emergency response in Gaza.

On this occasion, a football match took place in Gaza between the teams of the Al-Rantisi pediatric hospital - Gaza and Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital. The two teams won the two days’ football tournament among Ministry of Health staff. The team of Shuhada Al Aqsa Hospital won the game. The football match was followed by a bazaar that displayed handmade crafts made by mental health service users at Gaza Psychiatric Hospital Day Care.

Background

The support to developing mental health services in Gaza and the West Bank is part of the ongoing project “Building Palestinian resilience: improving psychosocial and mental health responses to emergency situations”, which is funded by the EU. The project will seek to mitigate the accumulated psychosocial consequence of the last three crises in Gaza, to build the population’s resilience to withstand such crises and to continue personal and professional lives, and to increase key health institutions’ ability to respond to the mental health needs

The campaign celebrates the World Mental Health Day, which is observed in October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health. The WHO estimates that following the Gaza conflict in 2014 about 20% of the population of Gaza suffer from mental health problems and need short- to long-term support to recover. In addition, one third of people attending Palestinian Ministry of Health Primary Health Care centres in Gaza and the West Bank have suffered from common mental health problems. Despite this high need and demand for mental health services, there is still a huge gap between the mental health needs of the Palestinian population and the provision of mental health services and psychosocial interventions. The present EU-funded project will significantly build the capacity of the mental health services in both Ministry of Health and UNRWA health facilities.

Managed by the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) provides short- and mid-term assistance on conflict prevention, crisis-response and peace-building actions around the world. There are currently around 200 projects in over 75 countries. These IcSP projects are implemented by Non-Governmental Organisations, the UN and other International Organisations, EU Member State agencies and regional and sub-regional organisations.

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Publication date
10 October 2018
Author
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments