Gaza Appeal: Counselling Units for Traumatised Children

Mahmoud family take shelter in disused storage shed

Increasing access to mental health services in schools in Gaza for traumatised students. Over 50 schools and 11,000 students supported so far.

Children living in the Gaza Strip have experienced unusually high rates of psychosocial distress with the ongoing conflict and more recently due to the violent response to the local communities’ Great March of Return protests. The daily attacks they witnessed in response to the protests saw 361 Palestinians killed and 21,161 injured, of these at least 22% were children[1]. 172 people were permanently disabled due to the severity of their injuries, of these 36 are children[2].

A study conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council in early 2019 found that 68% of school children, in areas close to the Israeli perimeter fence in Gaza, show clear indications of psychosocial distress. The majority said they were most severely affected by the sounds of nearby explosions and media images of the conflict in Gaza.

One year since the start of the Great March of Return’ mass protests along the perimeter fence with Israel, a worrying 54% of children said they had no hope for a brighter future. The study also revealed that a staggering 81% of children struggle academically due to conflict-related stress. 

The violence children witness has left an entire generation emotionally damaged. It takes years of work with these children to undo the impact of trauma and restore their sense of hope for the future. Psychosocial distress levels, already high among the population of Gaza, have worsened signifi­cantly.

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At the same time, with the continued siege on Gaza for over 12 years, and Israeli imposed restrictions on people and goods into and out of Gaza, 54% of Gaza’s population is now unemployed, 53% of people live in poverty and food insecurity has spiralled to 68%.

Welfare Association, in partnership with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), is implementing the School Counselling Unit Programme. This is an important intervention to increase access to mental health services at governmental schools, for traumatised students who are in urgent need of psychological support services. So far more than 50 schools and 11,000+ children have been supported. 

The school counselling unit programme is an effective approach reaching thousands of students, it has five main interventions:

  • Establishing and equipping the counselling units within schools.
  • Building the capacity of school counsellors.
  • Providing professional counselling services for students.
  • Arranging public awareness meetings for parents and teachers.
  • Implementing therapeutic /recreational activities for students. 

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The project provides essential psychological support and promotes a healthy and supportive environment in schools, to enable children to overcome conflict-related trauma through a series of psychosocial rehabilitation services.

This appeal is raising funds to provide counselling units in another six schools in Gaza to support more than 300 traumatised children in the first year.

 

 

Please donate generously

 

 

 



[1] WHO Report. May 2019

[2] WHO