The Gaza Mental Health Foundation is an all-volunteer group which raises funds and provides training to support the critical work of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and other independent, non-sectarian mental health and women’s empowerment groups in the Gaza Strip. We are based in the United States and are a registered 501c3 nonprofit. Read more about our work & history. Support the vital efforts of grassroots mental health initiatives in Gaza by donating online today!
Head of Gaza Mental Health Foundation visits partner organizations in Gaza
In April-May 2018, Dr. Bill Slaughter, president of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, gained entry to the Gaza Strip to witness again the critical work being done by our partner organizations.
The three beleaguered women’s groups we support—Aisha, Al-Zahraa and Wefaq—continue to operate under very difficult circumstances, making women and children their prime focus. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), which has carried out emergency outreach to victims from the Great March of Return, maintains its direct clinical work with people with high levels of trauma, the training it offers other organizations as well as its own specialized educational programs.
During his time in Gaza, Dr. Slaughter worked with students doing the GCMHP postgraduate diploma in community mental health. He is pictured above (back row) with diploma students. He was also very encouraged to see the substantial progress that had been made on the new GCMHP headquarters, pictured below. To his left is the GCMHP executive director Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, who is planning another visit to the US in the fall.
Great March of Return Crisis Response
With over a hundred dead and more than 12,000 injured — many of them suffering gunshot wounds that require amputations — the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) is stepping up its community outreach efforts to serve those who have been injured and the families of those who have been killed.
Please donate now to enable the GCMHP to once again carry out the kind of emergency response that it undertook for several months in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 war. Your donation will allow the GCMHP to hire additional staff and increase its support of other organizations that are providing emergency services in the Gaza Strip. Make a donation now through Paypal.
Sarah Helm’s article “A Suicide in Gaza” illuminates the pressure cooker conditions in which two million Gazans have been forced to live — and why expanded mental health services are now so urgently needed. Read her article.
Please read and sign on to the excellent Israeli mental health professionals’ statement regarding the recent events in Gaza. In their statement, these mental health professionals write:
As mental health professionals, we know that ongoing exposure to warfare and extreme stress is bound to be destructive for the physical and the psychological health of the people of Gaza. In particular, the children of Gaza, whose entire lives have been shaped by repeated traumatization, deprivation and loss, are bound to grow up feeling deep despair.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme Needs Your Help to Complete its New Headquarters
Against considerable odds, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program has successfully built the shell of its new headquarters in Gaza City and is now hoping to move into the building in 2018. Please consider helping them complete the building, which will be named after GCMHP founder Dr. Eyad el Sarraj.
The building will include psychotherapy rooms, a play therapy room for children, occupational and physiotherapy spaces, a telephone counseling unit and pharmacy. Two floors will be devoted to three large training halls, a library and research department. The building will also accommodate the GCMHP’s administrative units and have guest rooms for international visitors and trainers. When sufficient funding is obtained solar panels will be put on the roof.
You can donate electronically or by sending us a check with “headquarters” on the memo line. If you make a credit card or PayPal payment, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your donation is for the building fund.
GCMHP is Building for the Future
Early in January 2017 Alice Rothchild, a physician, author, filmmaker and Gaza Mental Health Foundation Board member, visited the Gaza Strip where she toured three clinics run by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. In her blog she describes her meetings with GCMHP professionals who talked about why the connection between mental health and human rights is so vitally important in their work. See her blog for more.
GCMHP executive director Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei was eager to show her the structure of the new GCMHP headquarters which, she writes, “represents a commitment to the future of the center and the end of the financial drain of renting two large facilities.” In the photo above, Alice (second from right) stands in the building that is taking shape with Dr. Abu Jamei and (from left) Mina Remy and Chung-Wha Hong from the Boston-based organization Grassroots International.
Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei Concludes His Second Trip to the U.S.
After having his travel permission blocked for some months, Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, the Executive Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, arrived in Boston just in time to make a presentation on November 11 at Harvard Arab Weekend 2016. For the three subsequent weeks he gave talks and conferred with mental health professionals in Boston and other US cities before leaving for a long delayed speaking tour of the UK, where he received an Alumni of the Year award from the University of Birmingham. For more on Dr. Abu Jamei’s trip see the October-December 2016 newsletter of the GCMHP.
Mental Health and Human Rights
In April 2016 two Gaza Mental Health Foundation trustees were able to enter the Gaza Strip to participate in the “Mental Health and Human Rights” conference organized by the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. Here conference speakers are pictured with GCMHP staff at the end of the two-day event, which was attended by nearly 800 people from around the Gaza Strip:
This film about the life of GCMHP founder Dr. Eyad el Sarraj was shown at the “Mental Health and Human Rights” conference:
Read a description of a recent trip to Gaza by Gaza Mental Health Foundation trustee Nancy Murray, “Keeping Hope Alive in the Gaza Strip.”
First US tour by Executive Director Yasser Abu Jamei, MD
The October 2015 tour was a wonderful success. Thanks to all: donors, attendees, media and hosts. Read more about the tour…
Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei is quoted in this NBC News piece about why people are demonstrating in the Gaza Strip. Read the full article.
Physician Alice Rothchild writes here about disturbing developments within the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP): “A professional, international organization that is focused on the social and relational aspects of mental health might be expected to welcome a conversation that explores the impact of longstanding human rights abuses, military occupation and siege on a captive civilian population. Indeed, even the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder may not be applicable to a society where the trauma is ongoing and rarely ‘post’. The link between a respect for individual human rights and mental health has been foundational to the work of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program…. But some staff at the IARPP responded more like an arm of the Israeli government than a professional mental health organization.” Read her full article.
A Norwegian Refugee Council survey reveals that the Israeli repression of unarmed protest activity in the Gaza Strip is having a traumatic impact on children. Read the full article.
Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) has provided treatment to some 500 of the 5,000 or more injured during the “Great Return March” demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. They report that they are seeing bone-pulverizing wounds from gunshots leading to lifelong physical disabilities. Read more on the MSF website.
London psychoanalyst Martin Kemp brings a psychoanalytic perspective to Israel’s demonization of Palestinians and the current equation of anti-antisemitism with anti-Zionism. Read his article.
April 2018: Mental health suffers as Gaza is choked
It has been estimated that as many as 20 percent of Gaza’s people may have developed serious mental health conditions, with around 360,000 people requiring mental health or psychosocial interventions, according to a report by the World Health Organisation. Read the full article.
The protest against the decision of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy to hold its 2019 international conference in Tel Aviv is gathering force. As physician Alice Rothchild writes, “Already the protest movement has created intense discussions and an increasing awareness of the realities on the ground for clinicians who are usually in the shadows.” Read the full article.
On International Women’s Day the Israeli human rights group Gisha published a report, ‘Dreams Deferred: The Impact of the Closure on Women in the Gaza Strip.’ It features Mariam Abu Alatta of the Aisha Association for Women and Child Protection, an organization supported by the Gaza Mental Health Foundation. Read the report.
Opposition to the plan of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy to hold its 2019 international conference in Tel Aviv continues to grown. Now Palestinian Israeli mental health workers weigh in.
At the end of 2017 three US mental health professionals joined Palestinian psychiatrist Samah Jabr in calling on the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy to reconsider its decision to hold its 2019 meeting in Israel.
November 2017: Palestinians in Gaza Suffer Enough Without Being Defamed as Sexual Deviants and Mentally Ill
GCMHP head Yasser Abu Jamei and New America Fellow Brian Barber respond to a piece in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz about the supposed implosion of Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip:
A November 11 Haaretz interview with a psychologist who occasionally visits the Gaza Strip portrays Gazan society as a community that has completely lost its moral backbone – to the extent even, the interviewee Mohammed Mansour claims, that there is rampant sexual abuse and drug abuse and that, for all intents and purposes, everyone is mentally ill.
Our longtime and extensive experience as mental health professionals and researchers in Gaza is very different. Virtually all of the assertions made in the article about Gaza’s population as a whole are speculative, based as they are on either no evidence or merely the interviewee’s impressions, anecdotes or case examples.
Israeli psychiatrist Dr. Ruchama Marton founded Physicians for Human Rights-Israel during the first Intifada and worked closely with Dr. Eyad El Sarraj. They are pictured together in this interview with her from the Israeli publication 972Mag:
On the occasion of her 80th birthday, Ruchama Marton, the founder of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, talks about the atrocities she witnessed as a soldier, the enduring power of feminism, and why only outside help has a chance of ending Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians.
September 2017: Gaza: “It’s not a war of guns, but a war on minds”
Despair leading to suicide is reportedly on the rise in Gaza, especially among the young. These pieces in Al Jazeera and the Israeli publication 972mag.com describe the “war on the minds” that the people of Gaza are struggling with.
July 2017: A Not So Slow Genocide
Physician Alice Rothchild, a Gaza Mental Health Foundation board member, writes about what is happening in the Gaza Strip as a slowly unfolding genocide:
While the world is appropriately focused on the massive humanitarian crises in places like Syria and Mosul and South Sudan, two million Gazans face a growing manmade disaster that is largely invisible. After 50 years of occupation, a decade of strangulating siege, and multiple high and low-intensity Israeli assaults on an almost daily basis, a power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, aided and abetted by the Israeli government, now threatens the very lives of these beleaguered people….
June 2017: Medications in Dangerously Short Supply in Gaza
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reports that there are “unprecedented levels of scarcity” of medications and medical equipment needed for surgery in Gaza, and that the closure and escalating electricity crisis have hit hospitals hard.
A Decade of De-Development in Gaza:
Two Million People Denied a Human Standard of Living
Read the new report by Bo Schack, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza.
What is life like for Gaza Strip residents as the Israeli blockade enters its 12th year? How can mental health thrive under these conditions? Read the “100,000 Hours of Isolation” report for more.
Donate online via PayPal, or print out a brochure and send a check with your name, address, telephone number and email address to: Gaza Mental Health Foundation, PO Box 380273, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA. Email us at email@example.com with questions.
Your tax-deductible donations would support the mental health work carried out by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, as well as Afaq Jadeeda’s children’s therapy program, “Let the Children Play and Heal” in Nusseirat refugee camp, founded by Dr. Muna El-Farra; and three women’s empowerment groups: Aisha, Al Zahraa and Wefaq.
Given the huge number of traumatized children and families in the Gaza Strip, and the trauma endured by the GCMHP staff, your support is needed more urgently than ever.