The people in Gaza are being collectively punished– there is no water, food, or electricity. The situation is unbearable for everyone; the bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital has shaken us all to our core. Our community is in immense pain right now.
In these dire circumstances, mental health support is urgently needed.
Gaza, with a population of over 2.2 million on just 365 square kilometers, is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Recent studies reveal that over half of Palestinians suffer from depression, with 71% of those in Gaza affected.
What is psychological first aid?
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a method of providing initial psychological and emotional support to individuals who have experienced a traumatic event or crisis. It is a compassionate and practical approach that aims to help people cope with their immediate emotional reactions and reduce the risk of long-term psychological distress.
Psychological First Aid conducted via a hotline during times of crisis, adheres to key principles:
- Safety and Comfort: Ensure the physical safety and comfort of the individual in distress is paramount. The hotline operator should create a non-judgmental, empathetic, and supportive environment.
- Practical Assistance: Offering practical assistance by providing information and resources that can address the individual’s immediate needs or concerns.
- Calming and Reassurance: Providing reassurance and helping the person to feel calm and more at ease by offering a listening ear and emotional support.
- Active Listening: Actively listening to the person’s concerns, thoughts, and feelings without pushing them to divulge more than they are comfortable sharing.
- No Pressure: Avoid any pressure for the individual to disclose sensitive information or revisit traumatic events unless they choose to do so voluntarily.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Recognizing and respecting cultural, social, and individual differences in coping with distress.
- Linking to Support: Offering information on available support services, both immediate and long-term, that can further assist the individual.
- Self-Care: Promoting self-care strategies and coping mechanisms that the individual can utilize to manage their emotional well-being.
Psychological First Aid is typically administered by trained individuals, such as mental health professionals, first responders, or volunteers, but it can also be provided by anyone with a basic understanding of its principles. It is commonly used in the aftermath of natural disasters, accidents, violence, or other traumatic events to help individuals cope with the immediate emotional impact and promote resilience in the face of adversity.
Hakini provides mental health services in Palestine and around the world. Their mission is to make mental health services accessible and practical for all individuals, supporting them in enhancing their mental well-being. Originating from the Arabic word “tell me,” Hakini is dedicated to meeting the needs of both individuals and organizations.
Hakini’s website and mobile application promote mental health awareness and offer an array of self-help resources. These include pre-recorded exercises, programs, courses, and meditation sessions that are guided and based on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach (CBT).
Hakini’s goal is to provide a safe environment that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.