As part of its efforts to
champion mental health and human rights issues, Gaza Community Mental Health
Programme has arranged a workshop on the occasion of World Mental Health Day
under the title: “Mental Health for all – Greater Investment, Greater Access”.
The workshop was attended
by Dr Mohammad Abu Shahla, Head of the Board of Directors; Dr Yehia Khader,
Director of MoH’s Department of Mental Health; Nevien Abdelhadi and Mostafa
Al-Zaeem, mental health specialists from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society;
Dr Mahmoud Al-Sheikh Ali from the European Hospital; and Osama Freineh and
Kholoud Abu Hejayer, GCMHP MH specialist, in addition to a host of
representatives from CBOs.
The first session, titled ‘Covid-19
Impact on Health Care and Social Service Providers’, was moderated by Ms Inas Joudah,
Head of Training and Capacity Building Unit, during this session Dr Khader
explained how professionals working on the front lines have been affected by
the stressful situation of the pandemic and the efforts made by the MoH to
provide Mental health support.
Mr Freineh, on his part,
made a presentation about how the general life in the Gaza Strip has been
affected upon the announcement of the pandemic outbreak inside the society. He
also explained GCMHP’s interventions to respond to the situation which has had
a heavier impact on mental health patients as well as the professionals and
caregivers working in the field of psychosocial support.
During the first session
too, Mr Al-Zaeem and Ms Nevien talked about PRCS MH department experience in
the shadow of the pandemic, the achievements made and the challenges faced by
the Psychological First Aid team.
The second session,
entitled ‘Efforts made to Support Different Social Groups Including Students,
Labourers, the Quarantined and Covid-19 patients’, was then introduced by its
moderator, Dr Darabei.
In this connection, Dr
Al-Sheikh Ali explained the mechanisms of MH providers’ work inside hospitals
and talked about the impact of their efforts on maintaining the psychological
wellbeing of the quarantined and coronavirus patients.
On the other hand, Dr Mona Kaskeen,
head of MH unit at Al-Shefa Hospital, shared their experience in providing distant
mental health services during the emergency situation of Covid-19.
Sharing her experience in
PFA provision during the pandemic situation, Ms Abu Hejayer made a presentation
about the groups her team intervene with, explaining the main psychological
complaints they receive and mechanism of their work as well as the most
important needs of their clients.
organizations shared the different challenges that they have been contending
with recently. The following is the highlights of these challenges:
The impact of the
lockdown on MH services that have been restricted to the quarantined;
Cutting down a
variety of activities due to logistic challenges ensued by the emergency
Lack of health
The difficulty to
reach the quarantined as a result of the unavailability of wi-fi connection in
The risk of
infection that health care volunteers face;
by the quarantined, the infected and the health care providers as well as their
The difficulty to
diagnose cases and coordinate with organizations to link and refer the
The workshop resulted in a
set of recommendations, among the highlights of which are:
skills of self-care for frontliners to improve the quality of the services they
Creating a uniform
intervention program especially during the pandemic situation;
Providing the fund
needed to implement MHPSS activities and meet the logistic requirements of
The necessity to
recruit mental health professionals to directly deal with the infected inside
The necessity to
train the police and health personnel about how to intervene during pandemics;
The necessity to put
a studied plan to promote knowledge of the personnel working distantly;
Raising the social
awareness about the stigmatization related to the pestilence;
protection ways to alleviate anxiety of the elderly and children.