The Mental Health Impact of War and Terrorism: Israelis and Palestinians
Warfare and terrorism have had a grave effect on all demographics throughout the region; however, children seem to show the most prominent displays of PTSD and mental health vulnerabilities. Children living in Gaza, under Hamas rule, exhibit high levels of abnormal behavior. Whether it be rockets or simply due to life under a terrorist regime, the prevalence of violence presents a commonness of mental health difficulties among the children of Gaza; they have issues with nail biting, bullying, and a common phobia of attending school [Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal}]
While PTSD among Palestinian children living in Gaza is more widespread, PTSD among Israeli children is often dependent upon their geographical location. A study conducted by (Tel Aviv University) found that children living in the territories or areas bordering Gaza or the West Bank have a similar PTSD prevalence rate as the Palestinian children living in the war zones. However, Israeli children living in areas with less conflict display much lower rates of prevalence. The resources for psychiatric care favor heavy drug treatments rather than therapy, leaving the remainder of the mental health strategies in the hands of community centers, donors, and non-profit organizations.
To the contrary, in this heated time, Israel has issued state-wide guidelines on how to calm down after a rocket siren in order to take preventative measures against PTSD. Many different factors likely contribute to the contrasting rates of mental health problems, whether it be a genetic predisposition, the government's strategic approaches, geographical location, or cultural resilience. Regardless of the causes, the epidemic of helplessness, anxiety, and fear is an on-going issue. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a multi-faceted, intense matter; however, the mental health epidemic in the region is not a socio-political, religious, or geographical issue. In these times, it is imperative to look at both Israelis and Palestinians as people who are so traumatized that mental health challenges are common.
By Maya Robin