Gaza Community Mental Health Program has had the honour of organizing its
eighth international conference, entitled “Mental Health in the Gaza Strip: An
Area Populated by Refugees”, in Gaza City via the online (Zoom Program), where
50 local and international research papers in the field of mental health and human
rights were presented, in addition to a number of presentations on professional
experiences. Participated in the
conference professionals, experts and
academics from several countries, namely Lebanon, Ireland, the United States,
Britain, and Italy, in addition to local Palestinian papers from the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
conference, whose activities began on Sunday, September 5, 2021, dealt with
three main themes: the first, social and economic conditions in the Gaza Strip
as an area populous with refugees, the second mental health of the population
of the Gaza Strip, and the third mental health services for the population of
the Gaza Strip and the gaps that should be bridged.
participants expressed their satisfaction that the conference created a good
opportunity for exchanging local and international experiences and also opened room
for scientific discussions on a variety of topics under the themes of the
conference, saying that it has contributed to promoting the professional
practice of those who work in the field of mental health and human rights. In
addition, they found the conference as a means of breaking the state of
professional and political siege that the Gaza Strip suffers from, and also a
vehicle for creating dialogue with the professional communities around the
world and enhancing cooperation with them.
conference, the participants have cast light on the fact that it is not
possible to enjoy psychological and physical well-being while living under the
occupation and suffering from siege, violation of human rights, lack of life
essentials and loss of sense of dignity.
participants expressed their great gratitude for Gaza Community Mental Health
Program as a leading organization in the field of mental health and human
rights in Palestine and as an important part of the Palestinian civil society, reiterating
the point that this conference comes at
a very important and sensitive time in which the Palestinians, especially the refugees
in the Gaza Strip, experience all forms of oppression, injustice,
marginalization, and deprivation of their rights – the rights whose observation
has been repeatedly called for by the International community.
event has been a reminiscent of the pioneering role played by the Late Dr. Eyad
El-Sarraj, who, though absent with his body, is still with us in spirit. Dr
El-Sarraj has had the credit for establishing and sponsoring the this GCMHP, as
well as developing the mental health profession in Gaza and Palestine and
linking it to the principles of human rights, justice and dignity.
today, and this conference, confirm the continuation of this concept which Dr. El-Sarraj
initiated to serve humanity and the Palestinian home through the provision of mental
health, community services, capacity building, knowledge management, scientific
research, and the liberation of the human being from injustice and ignorance.
discussing about 50 research paper and presentations, the participants have
come to the following conclusions and recommendations:
has created many challenges in the form of a complex reality in the Gaza Strip,
which, as a result, has created negative effects on the economic, social and
psychological lives of all the categories of the Palestinian society in the
Gaza Strip as an area populous with refugees.
To reduce these effects it is recommended that
social media platforms and digital media tools are more broadly used to bridge the
gap caused by the pandemic and also to increase the awareness and create more educational
programmes about the impact of the pandemic on people and those with mental
health disorders. Besides these
platforms and tools can be used in developing educational curricula and be
aligned with the new situation we are living.
Women in the Gaza Strip, in addition to vulnerable groups such as the elderly,
children and people with disabilities, have faced great psychological pressures
at emergency times and in crisis situations in recent years, which has necessitated
developing their capabilities through special programs and interventions to
help them cope of stress. In addition they need to have their awareness raised
to protect them from all forms of abuse, while also focusing on providing them
with preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitative services. These services should
also focus on dealing with disorders related to trauma and stress, as they pose
a threat to all the groups of the Palestinian society, especially the vulnerable.
highlighting the importance of the mental
health sector, especially its role in crisis situations, including those
resulted from Coronavirus pandemic. Mental health organizations have
contributed to increasing local and global awareness and have equipped people
with coping skills in dealing with emergency situations, pandemics, natural
disasters and armed conflicts.
is a need for continuing applying science-based interventions and to conduct
more studies related to nutrition and its impact on the mental health state of
the population in the Gaza Strip. There is also a need for conducting an
evaluation of psychological resilience programmes in the Gaza Strip, in
addition to conducting more studies on the psychological and social impact of loss
on Palestinian families.
• Fifth: Medical
crews, along with the professionals working in the field of psychosocial
services, have constituted the first frontlines in responding to the successive
crises that the Gaza Strip has witnessed, such as the ongoing aggression and
the recent Corona pandemic. Researchers have
reach consensus through their studies on the need for pay attention to this
category of workers, through providing them with supportive supervisory programmes
and therapeutic interventions so as they can continue their important
professional roles. In addition, researchers have recommended that those
categories are provided with self-care programmes with the aim of promoting
recovery and helping them cope with the working conditions.
participants have unanimously agreed on the importance of coordination between
service providers from governmental and non-governmental institutions,
considering it as the most important factor of success in implementing
emergency plans. They also referred to the importance of extensively providing
first aid services during times of crisis and in the aftermath, calling for the
launch of national campaigns related to the protection of the population in the
Gaza Strip, including the refugees.
they called for developing implementable emergency response plans to confront
the impact of crises, especially on the poor and vulnerable groups, with the
participation of the private sector, the civil society and the international
organizations so as to support and
assist governmental agencies in providing sufficient financial resources to
implement these plans.
the shadow of the persecution that the Palestinian society is experiencing, it is
clear that more and more individuals and organizations worldwide understand the
reality of the oppressive practices that Palestinians are subjected to,
including the siege on the Gaza Strip, and also understand the intervention
gaps in such a context, and therefore researchers recommend to recruit more allies,
find and mobilize more voices that call for ending the occupation and helping
the Palestinians gain their rights, while establishing more links between
international and national organizations.
great scientific occasion, the participants of the conference have sent their
heartfelt words of solidarity and support for all the survivors and victims of
human rights violations in Palestine and elsewhere. They also express their
gratitude for the mental health workers, remembering those who lost their
lives, property, or loved ones while helping their communities.
allow us all to extend our sincere thanks to the German GIZ Foundation for
funding this conference, and allow us to say thank you to all the participants
who have shared with us their research and professional experiences at this
conference –which came at exceptionally challenging circumstances – hoping it will rejuvenate our spirits
and renew our sense of optimism.
The Organizing Committee of the
8th International MH Conference