Just the Facts: Mental Health
- Up to 40% of Palestinians suffer from depression.
- Among areas heavily bombarded during the 2014 war on Gaza, 54% of children suffered severe PTSD.
- Following the war, the WHO estimated over 20% of the Gazan population developed mental health conditions requiring psychosocial care.
- 29% of adolescents have witnessed a family member humiliated.
- 32.7% of children in the Gaza Strip suffer from severe levels of PTSD and 49% of children suffer through moderate levels of PTSD.
- 54% of Palestinian boys and 46.5% of Palestinian girls 6-12 years old are estimated to have emotional and behavioural disorders.
- The arrest of children by Israeli military forces is a common driver of mental health disorders, leading to high rates of anxiety, depression, and attentional and educational difficulties as well as suicide and self harm.
- DCIP found that 75% of detained children endured some form of violence during their arrest by Israeli soldiers. Over 70% said they experienced verbal abuse, intimidation and humiliation, while 70% also underwent strip searches.
- Mental health services remains a very under-funded sect of public health, in part because of the stigma that still remains around mental disorders, much of which comes from religious views that say mental illness is a test or punishment by God and is something to be shameful about.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on the mental health of Palestinian health care workers working under decades of occupation and blockade with shortages of medicines and personal protective equipment, and with a vaccination rate just a fraction of their Israeli counterparts.
- A June 2021 op-ed piece in Scientific American, “As Health Care Workers, We Stand in Solidarity with Palestine”, was retracted after protests from Israeli groups, despite the magazine acknowledging there were no factual errors in the piece.
- “The Burden of Mental Disorders in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 1990-2013” from PLOS ONE
- “Mental Health in Palestine: The Hidden Plague” from the Borgen Project
- “Dealing with death and distress: The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of Palestinian healthcare workers” from MAP UK
- “Mental health in Palestine among world’s worst” from the New Arab
- The original Scientific American op-ed is available as a PDF.
- An article by Alice Rothchild about the retraction can be found in the Health and Human Rights Journal, “Ghosting Palestine: Hiding Health and Human Rights Violations”.
- To learn more about mental health issues in Palestine, we suggest you watch Dr. Hala Alyan on “Mental Health in Palestinian Communities” from the Palestinian American Community Center.
- And consider signing up for the USA-Palestine Mental Health Network’s upcoming webinar “Under Siege & Under Bombs; Children’s Mental Health in Gaza” on November 6th. Details here.