Counselling is one of the mental
health services that Gaza Community Mental Health Programme provides for the
population the Gaza Strip.
psychologists receive clients’ calls and respond to their complaints and
inquires and to educate and counsel them on their issues.
The first counselling
hotline was started in 2000 at the beginning of the second Palestinian
Intifada. At the time the political and security situation was critical and
Gaza governorates were split into different isolated areas, which made it so
difficult, and sometime impossible, for people to access the mental health
The work hours of the
hotline started from 8 am to 3 pm. However, after the deterioration of the situation
which resulted from the recurring attacks on the Gaza Strip, and to respond to
the increasing demand, the working hours were extended to 8pm. This continued
to be the case until 2015. In 2020, the
hotline working hours were again extended after the breakout of Covid-19
pestilence to be from 8 am to 8 pm throughout the whole week.
GCMHP provides this
services for free considering the bad economic situation of the people in Gaza
and the ramifications of the blockade which has been imposed on Gaza for more
Besides there was a
cultural consideration, connected with stigma, for establishing the hotline.
Many people prefer to receive counselling and mental health support indirectly
rather than meeting face to face with psychologists.
There two types of
services provided through the free telephone counselling line:
First, education and counselling:
counselling through providing callers with information about their
psychological reactions on problems. This helps them control their feelings and
as a result increases their tranquility.
For example, the
telephone counsellors provide information for someone who suffers from panic fits
that results from PTSD. Such information orient the client about what PTSD and
their signs are, explaining that our reactions are a normal result of something
abnormal situation. This helps clients to reduce their fear and anxiety.
In addition, the free
telephone counselling line provides information for caregivers and parents
about how to deal with children through listening to their complaints and
answering their inquiries. Most children complain of symptoms that they develop
through experiencing challenging life conditions. These symptoms, such as
bedwetting, nightmares, drop in school achievement and violent behaviour has
been among the most common problems families complain of as a result of the recurring
attacks by the Israeli occupation force against Gaza. Thus the telephone
counsellors give consultations and counsels to parents on how to safely deal
with their children.
Second, diagnosis and
Based on complaint
assessment and the severity of the psychological signs and their impact of the
clients’ lives, telephone counsellors categorize the cases. According to these
categories, it is decided what level of intervention a client needs and whether
he or she needs to be referred to GCMHP community enters – which provide
specialized MH intervention – or to the appropriate type of mental health and
psychosocial support services.
The benefits of the
counselling hotline are summaries as follow:
the awareness of the callers about mental health issues and restricting stigma
towards MH patients;
callers about social problems, which results in decreasing domestic violence
and creating a stable family relationship;
- Creating hope through offering support and
relieving the suffering of the clients;
identifying MH cases and referring them to the appropriate services and the
specialized centres such as legal protection centres and women and children
protection centres and other organisations that deal with education and autism
projects and intervening in crises and identifying social needs based on
analyzing the information which are documented in the special forms.