Children of War Provide Mental Health Lifeline for Children in the West Bank – Occupied Palestinian Territories

Children in the occupied Palestinian Territory face new levels of depression and anxiety. However, many factors cause most people to suffer in silence. To prevent children from being overlooked, War Child has developed a support program. Currently active in her 100 schools in the West Bank.

4 out of 5 children

The impact of 15 years of violence and lockdowns on children’s mental health is far-reaching. In Gaza alone, four of her five children said they were living with depression, sadness and fear. The health of parents and caregivers is also deteriorating, and mental health services are virtually non-existent, so structures to protect children are rapidly shrinking.

Through ReachNow, a new evidence-based program, War Child is giving communities the tools to help prevent children from overcoming the gap.

low cost, high efficiency

understood. Sounds promising, but how does it work?The program is based on a simple tool: his sheet of paper with case studies and decision charts. Case studies are illustrated through a series of stories depicting common examples of children experiencing psychological distress.

Trained community facilitators use this tool to identify children who may be in need of psychological support. A more detailed evaluation is then performed by a professional mental health worker.

In the occupied West Bank, this low-cost and highly effective method is being adopted by school teachers.

community gatekeeper

Nour, who has over ten years of professional experience, is one such teacher. She works at an elementary school in the West Bank. She used to refer her child to her internal counselor if she saw difficult behavior in the classroom. Unsure of what constitutes her introduction, she hesitated and often confided to her fellow teachers without regard for her student’s privacy.
She also indicated that she did not consider more subtle warning signs, such as “the child has ceased activity or is unusually calm.”

Now Nour sees her classroom in a whole new light. “Suddenly I can distinguish between behavioral and emotional indicators of distress,” she says. “And don’t dismiss children as ‘problem children’ who want to cause trouble.” “

Mental health treatment gaps

With the help of these “community gatekeepers”, War Child worked with local professional mental health partner organizations to successfully identify 403 children in 100 schools in the area. . Her five of these children were later referred to professional services.

“Most of the children identified by the tool receive some form of psychological support,” says lead researcher Myrthe van den Broek. “However, the referral mechanism still faces challenges due to the limited ability to follow up on cases.”

Despite the search for new ways to ensure quality support, lack of mental health services and manpower remains a major obstacle. Her 2.7 million people in the West Bank have a limited number of psychologists at their disposal.

urgent need for investment

“We are currently working to roll out this method in Ukraine, Uganda, and elsewhere,” says Myrthe. “But to do that, we need to address this glaring gap in care, both from the supply side and the demand side. It’s well over the 3 cents per person that’s been paid.”

For more information on ReachNow and its impact to date, please visit this page.

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