Save the Children’s teams on the ground are witnessing severe mental health and behavioral issues among the children of Gaza. Worrying signs of distress that include constant shaking, insomnia, and uncontrolled urination, have been reported by our teams. Parents are telling us how their children cling to them and are startled by the sound of an ambulance; many wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares. Without the right psychological support, this generation of Palestinian children will suffer the mental health impacts for years to come.
Mariam was forever changed by an airstrike
Mariam* and her family live in the Gaza strip. But her life changed forever the night a missile strike left shrapnel embedded in her left ear. “There was shrapnel in my left ear,” she says. “I was throwing up blood and my nose and ears were bleeding too.”
Credits: Hurras Network / Save the Children
She became severely traumatised and withdrawn, struggling even to communicate with her own brothers. Her grades dropped at school and, she says, her friends started “looking at me differently”. She couldn’t do the things she’d been able to do before – even going outside to play left her feeling dizzy. Fiercely independent, she hated having things done for her. She felt increasingly isolated, anxious and depressed – but something inside her refused to be defeated.
Save the Children first visited Mariam in hospital to provide counselling. After she was discharged she attended group counselling sessions for five months. This support has helped her continue her friendships at school, get on better with family members and sleep without nightmares.