Gaza Mental Health Foundation Celebrates 20 Years Supporting Mental Health Organizations in Gaza!
The Gaza Mental Health Foundation is an all-volunteer 501c3 organization that was founded in the United States in 2001. We raise funds for the mental health work being carried out in the Gaza Strip by independent, non-sectarian organizations such as the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP). Our support has expanded the mental health services available to individuals, especially children, furthered the reach of crisis intervention programs and advanced the training of mental health professionals and public awareness efforts to combat the stigma of mental illness in Palestinian society.
Our work was inspired by the first psychiatrist in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Eyad el Sarraj (1943-2013). Dr. El Sarraj made helping people move beyond their personal and collective suffering to recognize the basic humanity of all human beings his life’s work.
Recognizing that human rights and mental health go hand in hand, he founded the GCMHP in 1990 to meet the mental health needs of people who were exposed on a daily basis to humiliation, loss of freedom, injury, detention, destruction of homes and the loss of family members.
It is difficult to imagine any future in which Palestinians and Israelis can one day live peacefully together without the efforts of mental health workers who, following Dr. el Sarraj’s example, are endeavoring to heal the spirit of a people subjected to decades of violence and deprivation.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent this message to the memorial tribute held for Dr. Eyad el Sarraj on October 28, 2014:
The horror and devastation of war is evident in the photographs captured on social media and the news but the psychological trauma inflicted on all victims remain invisible to the world. Many victims suffer life-changing injuries or witnessed family members killed and homes, schools and mosques destroyed. PTSD increases with each cycle of violence. The legacy of Dr. Eyad el-Sarraj will continue in the Gaza Strip as long as organizations like the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme exist to help such victims, their staff caring for the psychologically wounded while often enduring similar trauma as those they treat. God is evident in Gaza, evident by the hearts and hands of those who spread God’s Grace and Mercy. God Bless You