Insomnia, tears, anxiety and panic. The war in Gaza has completely changed the mind of children. Psychologists: “It’s devastating. Lack tools and medicine. “
Yahya Ayesh never sleeps properly, he is always alone, and when you see all the evil that the people who are close to him are subjected to every day?
I call it “The domino effect”, one push hand you’ve lost control; Punches, bites, kicks, anything to express your anger and fear you carry inside.
Yahya Ayesh is only six years old and lives in Gaza and have been suffering from severe post-traumatic stress syndrome, for a long time.
PTSD has an effect that makes him struggle in a constant state of panic.
NO HEALING OF WOUNDS.
Time haven’t healed his wounds. In fact they worsened, and now his conditions are so sever that he’s in need of professional help from a specialist who can try to “fix him“, or at least ease the anxiety and stress caused during the brutal bomb-attacks that lasted for 51 days during Israili offensive operation “Protective Edge“, the summer of 2014 ~July 8 to 26 August the same year.
It’s been five months since the “official hostilities” ended, but living in horror all those days of heavy bombardment – with around 300 bombs over “the Strip” and about 169 rockets fired into Israel – this will leave deep wounds with a child. NATURALLY!
FEAR KEEPS HIM AWAY FROM SCHOOL. PTSD has a difficult mental impact to overcome. You attempt to return to normal, nevertheless when our daily living continue. PTSD makes it hard to resume, Yahya is “dented” in a way, and in a way a dent is hard to make invisible, and because of that he is not well enough to go back to school yet.
“Yahya saw his father die during one the bombings,”
Mahmoud A. A. Ibaid explains:
Mahmoud is a child psychologist, and for months he’s been working in schools around Gaza, as a cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
“They were together when the house was struck and he was wounded the house collapsed over them. Under one of Israel’s many attacks. His grandmother was also killed and since then … who would be the same after that? “
SERVE NEED FOR MEDICINE:
Mahmoud lets the little Yahya draw to express his thoughts and process them. Yahya has to learn how to handle the aggression, practicing to focus on something that feels good explains, but it is hard dealing with these complex cases without the use of organized facilities:
“The situation is really complex in every way ~ for everyone, One thing is that we don’t have the proper sufficient tools to work with, and that leads us to carrying out psychological therapy with all the commitment.”
A Ibaid continues…
“another issue is that there is a severe need for specific medicines, especially to treat the more severe cases. “
20% of Gaza’s population suffer from chronic stress and depression
Yahya is just one of the hundreds of children who suffer from the same type of disorder, and this is not counting the adults who’s been impacted! That’s more than just a little side-effect to the recent bombardment. Despite a habit of a life in tension, when the Israeli’s presence in Gaza the people is being subjected to continuous and repetitive shocks.
A RISE OF CASES:
“The reaction, is quite devastating. From what we see, we have seen a dramatic increase in cases of stress and chronic depression.” Mahmoud explains.
Data from The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that minimum 360,000 people, or 20% of the population, is suffering from these conditions, but the numbers have soared in the last months, this is also seen at the Gaza Community Mental Health Center, witch confirms Mahmoud’s worries.
CURATE 50 PATIENTS DAILY.
“Now no accurate data exists,” Mahmoud A. Ibaid repeats,
“Why? We don’t have the possibility to gather data and make statistics, but it’s clear that the clinics visit is even 50 people daily.”
The symptoms are always the same: insomnia, having recurring nightmares, anxiety, tachycardia, panic attacks, general aggression and crying fits, but some people end up having an enormous psychotic crisis.
SILENCE & STUTTERING.
“In these instances it is even more difficult to take action,“ said Maher, a Mental Health Center volunteer,
“because there isn’t always at the disposal suitable drugs, instead we have many patients who would need special psychiatric treatment. There are women who stop talking and several kids have started to stutter. It is really a critical situation that must be answered quickly, by adjusting instrumentation and also updating the collaboration networks with the schools. “
The deepest trauma: it takes years to find the balance
Mahmoud spends his days in the classrooms, with both children of different ages and try to help them rebuild the lost serenity.
Sometimes you just have to face the grief and sometimes young patients are so profoundly traumatized that it takes years to find the balance.
“Unfortunately,“ the psychologist continues, “to find these increasing amount of complex cases is almost impossible without help. We need better systematic support , there aren’t many professionals when we look for at the amount of people that need therapy ! We can’t tackle all the demands.”
During these months the professional team have created six action groups throughout the territory of the Gaza Strip, but the work of doctors focus is primarily Beit Hanon, north-east of the Strip, and Shejaya, the the areas that was hit hardest during the 2014-attacks. The areas that was flattened in everything , living conditions are extremely hard, especially now with the frost, because there is no usable water, no electricity, and no gas.
Precisely in these areas the teams that work on the ground organize recreation sessions, creating discussion groups aiming at involving the patients. This form of collective therapy doesn’t always reach termination, but they can help temporarily. Ayesh Samovar, the general psychiatric director of the hospital, said that there is a lot to do, “but we do not give up and we do all what we can to help people.” According to doctors the cases of stress and depression will continue to increase , not only because the horrors of war, but also because the daily struggles, particularly in certain areas. And the lack prospects does not help.