About one in five persons in Gaza has mental health problems: WHO

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Children taking part in play and psycho-social support activities organized by UNRWA's team of Community Mental Health Counselors. Shareef Sarhan/UNRWA Archives.

The recent conflict in Gaza has left about one in five people with mental health problems that are severe enough to warrant access to mental health services.

That's according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which on Friday published an account on its website of personal stories of people with mental health difficulties in Gaza.

Dr. Mark Van Ommeren, WHO's focal point on mental health in emergencies, said the recent war was exceptionally difficult for the civilian population given the massive violence.

"The population had no place to escape from it. We know the significant loss of life, massive destruction of property, schools, (and) livelihoods. Many people there have difficulty to have a perspective on their future, fear of further violence and have difficulties leaving Gaza. We estimate that after this round of violence about one in five people in Gaza have mental health problems that are severe enough to warrant good mental health services. (26")

Dr. Ommeren said this compares to about one in 10 on average elsewhere in the world where it is already difficult to serve the mental health needs of people.

He said in Gaza which is not a high income setting, it is even more difficult to provide such services.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration:  1’18″


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