The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
Since the death of Dr. el Sarraj, GCMHP has been ably led by psychiatrist Yasser Abu Jamei, MD. Much of GCMHP’s work is directed at helping traumatized children, women who are victims of violence, and the victims of torture, which they are able to do through crisis intervention and ongoing services, as well as leading training and coordination of mental health services throughout Gaza. The GCMHP has dozens of staff, a main facility and research center in Gaza City, and community mental health clinics in various parts of the Gaza Strip.
Dr Sami Owaida speaking about the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
Dr Sami Owaida works in the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. He is the director of the Gaza Community Centre. Dr Owaida qualified in medicine in 1996 and joined the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) in 1997. In 2007, he took up a residency in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital where he became a specialist child and adolescent psychiatrist in 2011. As well as being a specialist clinician, Dr Owaida is a university lecturer and clinical supervisor, and a Mental Health Consultant for the WHO.
Sami provides a comprehensive summary of the Programme’s key functions. Topics addressed include secondary trauma, use of interdisciplinary resources, mental health consequences of the Great March, and the role of religion in building resiliency.
Two segments to note:
At 44:25, Sami describes key services that are offered ONLY by the Programme. Shortly thereafter, he provides some historical perspective, addressing the effects of Israel’s three major offensives.
At 50:20 he notes Palestinians’ sense, particularly after the 51 day war, that they have a national and moral obligation to continue surviving.
Aisha, Al Zahraa and Wefaq
These are three women’s empowerment groups that grew out of GCMHP and now as fully independent organizations provide vital psychosocial support to women around the Gaza Strip.
The Aisha Association for Woman and Child Protection, the largest of the three, works in Gaza City and the north of the Gaza Strip; Al Zahraa Society for Women & Child Development, a small, grassroots organization, is based in the Al Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip; Wefaq Society for Woman & Child Care serves marginalized groups in the southern part of the Gaza Strip (Khan Younis and Rafah).
United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA)
United Nations Relief Work Agency (UNRWA) runs school and supplies services to the more than 70 percent of Gaza’s residents who are refugees. We have supported its mental health and psychosocial program that provides counselors to schools for refugee children.