Blog. Psychological first aid

The situation in Middle East has devastating consequences for the mental health of the affected people; consequences that might reverberate for years to come.

26.10 2023

The tragic and ongoing armed conflict between Israel and Hamas is affecting millions of people in the whole world. Our deepest sympathy is directed to the victims of the severe and unacceptable blockade and bombardment of Gaza and Palestinian civilians, and to the victims of the gruesome attack on civilians in Israel by Hamas. The lives and livelihoods of all these victims are destroyed and endangered, the conflict seems to be one that grows more violent and desperate every day, and prospects for hope and lives in peace seem very far away. And the main challenge for them right now seems to be survival! At the same time, we know that there are so many people around the world who live with this conflict every single day, who have done it for years, and of course even more, right now. And this is so, despite the fact that they themselves may live in peace and security.

Those with family, friends and kin in the affected areas, who search for information, who struggle to find ways to support and help their loved ones who find themselves in constant danger and threat, who feel helpless and ashamed for the limitations of their possible action, they are also under severe stress and pressure, despite that they themselves may live lives in security and safety. And the thoughts and unrest may be a daily challenge, and even disrupt their daily lives, whether others manage to engage in solidarity and action.

The ambition of MHHRI has always been to provide information about mental health and psychosocial consequences of war, conflict, and human rights violations, and ways in which such information may be given to helpers around the world, facing these enormous challenges in their work with survivors. But we also have information and resources that may be used by people directly as individuals, as well as in contact with groups or persons wanting to help and support.

For this reason, we have put together some relevant resources and ideas that may be useful in severe times of stress and unrest. These are activities, exercises, and psychoeducational messages about stress, stress reactions, body reactions and mental reactions, and possible ways of dealing with this. Despite the limitations that such advice or ideas have in the big picture, we find it important to encourage people who are experiencing these stressful experiences, to get together, or look for support from others willing to be there for them and use some of these examples alone or in their contact with others, be it a two-person relationship or group. Perhaps it may be some small steps in an endeavor to fight hopelessness and despair.

The information in the following is compiled or developed for helpers, volunteers, and professionals engaged in emergency work and support to persons exposed to war trauma, separation, and loss:

We are longing for peace in the Middle East with justice and human rights for all.

The MHHRI team