Workshop: “Covid-19 Renews Needs for Mental Health: The Reality and the
GCMHP has held on Monday, 21
September, 2020 a workshop online under the title “Covid-19 Renews Needs for
Mental Health: The Reality and the Challenges”.
The workshop was attended by a
host of representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations
working in the field of mental health and psychosocial support and human
Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, GCMHP
General Director; Dr Yehia Khader, General Director of MH department at MoH; Dr Yehia Al-Daour, MHPSS Coordinator at UNRWA;
Ms Rana Al-Nahal, MH supervisor at UNRWA; and Dr Saed Al-Madhoun, Protection
Cluster Focal Point at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights were the main speakers in the workshop, during which they
discussed their organizations’ experiences and the challenges they have been
contending with under covid-19 crisis.
Dr Abu Jamei opened the session
and provided a presentation about the recent mental health state in the Gaza
Strip under the pandemic socioeconomic effect, highlighting the special
situation of the vulnerable people such as the elderly, women, children and
people with disabilities.
He also explained that most of
the telephone counselling calls received by GCMHP were mad by people who are
quarantined at home or in health care centres, people complaining from severe
depression or the families of people with disabilities.
In addition, he explained that
GCMHP continued its services, though it was interrupted for one week after the
declaration of the emergency situation and the imposition of curfew, and that
medications were sent to the clients as they could not come themselves.
Besides, he psychiatrists kept following up with their patients through special
mobile phone number that were publicized.
On his part, Dr Khader talked
about the procedures taken by the Ministry of Health to tackle the pandemic
crisis and the challenges the ministry faced and the additional steps that were
made to match the level of the pressure that resulted from the situation.
“We quarantined doctors in
hospitals to restrict the spread of the virus and to provide health care for the
infected people. We have also opened additional quarantine centres and mobilized
a big number of healthcare crews. In addition, we have provided training for
the caregivers on how to deal with the affected people,” he said.
Dr Khader referred to the point
that the MH department of the MoH provides psychosocial support for the people
who are in the quarantine centers, but that “there is 16,000 people at home
quarantine who also need support.”
“We count on the main MHPSS
organizations such as Gaza Community Mental Health Programme to reach out to
those people and provide them with support,” he added.
Talking about UNRWA’s role during
the crisis, Dr Al-Daour said that the closure of schools was among the main
reasons for the increased demand on the mental health services. He also
explained that among the challenges that the UNRWA staff members faced during
the provision of their services was the risk of the infection, mentioning that
2 colleagues of theirs died of Covided-19.
Ms Rana, also from UNRWA’s side,
explained that mental health services are being provided in 22 health clinics
across the Gaza Strip and that most of clients’ complained were about GBV
during the crisis.
During his presentation, Dr Al-Madhoun brought the attention
to the point that telephone counselling is not enough for severe mental health
cases and that a special mechanism must be found to provide them with the
appropriate intervention during the emergency situation.
He also flagged it that some organizations have been making
professional mistakes during the provision of telephone counselling due to the
novelty of their experience, mentioning for example that personal mobile phones
were used to provide the services and that such a thing goes against the privacy
Moreover, he stressed the importance of intensify supportive
professional supervision for caregivers and professionals who work in the
frontlines to help them deal with their concerns and the stress they go under
because of the emergency situation, so as to make sure that they provide proper
services for the affected.
At the end of the workshop, the participants agreed on a set
of recommendations, the most important among which are:
The need to create a
mechanism to provide intervention for the severe mental health cases such as
people who suffer from severe depression of suicide cases.
The necessity to create a
mechanism to provide mental health and psychosocial support for the vulnerable,
especially victims of violence, the elderly, and people with disability.
The necessity to provide
additional training for telephone counselling providers to make sure they follow
the right protocols.
between the ministry of health and the MHPSS organizations to guarantee the
delivery of the services to thousands of people who are at home quarantine.