• 17 April

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How the Gaza Crisis Is Impacting People Emotionally and Mentally

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Gaza is witnessing a widespread impact of continued destruction spanning a few months since the beginning of the crisis. Constant bombardment and ground strikes make it impossible to find a safe place in Gaza. It has caused devastation everywhere, and almost everyone has lost immediate family members or relatives. The adults have to go through the pain of looking for family members under the rubble, while children are dealing with the burden of looking after younger siblings. Such a volatile situation is bound to shake the mental and emotional stability of the population. Given the extent of grief and suffering, it is natural for people to exhibit some mental health problems.

Mental Health in Gaza

A spokesman for a UN organisation is reported to have said:

“There is not enough food, there is not enough clean drinking water, and there is no protection. Nobody is guaranteed [to be safe] from the next wave of fighting that we fear is coming on. It is, like, every week; we think it cannot get any worse. Well, go figure. It gets worse.”

UNICEF has warned against the psychological cost of the current crisis. UNICEF estimates at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied because of losing or separating from their parents. Everyone is going through the mental and emotional outcomes of loss and fear. In this chaos, children are the worst affected of the whole population. As stated by UNICEF, children display symptoms such as loss of appetite, loss of sleep, anxiety, emotional outbursts and panic at the sound of bombings. According to other reports, they also suffer from other symptoms like bed-wetting, convulsions and fear of the dark.

Inadequate Psychological Response

Gaza is calling out for help! A large number of children and individuals need support which is not reaching them due to war-related constraints. With hospitals destroyed or damaged, the healthcare system is hardly functional. In these circumstances, Palestinian people are living with the effects of trauma in the absence of proper mental health support. According to a report by WHO, the number of those suffering from mental health issues has drastically increased, but the organisation lacks the capacity to provide the necessary support “because of its focus on some 27,000 fatalities and 67,000 injured”.

The images coming from Gaza are heartbreaking and difficult to watch. It is not hard to imagine the mental state of young children, widows and vulnerable men going through the actual horrors.

Damage to Support Systems

The traditional sources of support include hospitals, mosques, schools and extended family members. The crisis in Gaza has seen massive damage to all these sources, leading to a lasting impact on its people. While hospitals offer care to the injured, the mosques extend vital emotional and moral support to the vulnerable. The places of worship provide the space to develop a sense of belonging and establish spiritual connections. With churches and mosques targeted in strikes, the overall well-being of Gaza’s population is in jeopardy.

In the absence of proper medical care and other support networks, the healing process of those affected is bound to be slow or ineffective.

The Stress on Caregivers

The caregivers in Gaza are under alarming pressure, which contributes to untold psychological problems.  Whether it is mothers, older siblings or hospital nurses, everyone involved in the care of young children or injured relatives is suffering from the impact on their mental health. These people are not only dealing with the duty of care in war-torn Gaza but also the burden of grief or trauma resulting from seeing the death of their children, parents or patients.

There is a great need for support from many angles. However, just like medical care, Gaza’s mental health is in crisis. As with food and other aid equipment, it is relying heavily on support from charitable organisations, which also seem to have reached their capacity to provide the required help.

Ways of Supporting Gaza

With increasing casualties, mental health in Gaza is declining swiftly. As a result, the need to support the people of Gaza is greater than ever. However, most people wonder about the question of what you can do to support Gaza. It might seem like we cannot do much as individuals; still, there is a lot that can be done to support vulnerable people. The following steps can be taken by all peace-loving individuals to help the Palestinian cause.

1. Calling for an Immediate Ceasefire:

The most important step in this regard is writing to your local MPs and signing ongoing petitions for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. You can also participate in locally organised protests to call for an end to the violence. Each one of us has the ability to do this and make a difference in the suffering of the Palestinian people.

2. Spread Awareness:

It is important to raise awareness about the damage to innocent lives in Gaza. Writing posts on social media is an effective way to support mental health in Gaza. You can also educate yourself and your families about the far-reaching effects of the Middle East crisis and how to support those in need of aid.

3. Join Local Campaigns:

Another important action could be supporting local and national campaigns that are working to help the situation in Gaza. You could join the boycott campaign or support the sale of Palestinian dates during Ramadan.

4. Help with Generous Donations:

In addition to the above, you can donate to the charitable organisations working to provide the necessary aid in Gaza. Orphans in Need is helping widows and orphans in Gaza by providing food parcels, cooked meals, and winter blankets. Support the vital work of Orphans in Need by donating generously and helping save precious lives.