After interviewing 30 mental health clinicians in Gaza, researchers concluded that focusing narrowly on trauma, symptoms of “mental illness,” and psychiatric diagnosis fails to address and capture the causes and expressions of suffering in Palestine.
The researchers write that “promoting and restoring mental well-being by acting exclusively on psychological symptoms and syndromes prevents the application of social justice and equity in a society characterized by structural violence and oppression.”
Marwan Diab, head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, along with colleagues at that organization and Stellenbosch University, South Africa, led the research. The results were published in Transcultural Psychiatry.
The study was conducted before the current and ongoing Israeli offensive into the occupied territory of Gaza, resulting in over 22,000 Palestinian deaths, mostly civilians, which followed the Hamas attack on October 7 that killed about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians. This latest round of violence exacerbates the already challenging and distressing living conditions in Gaza, a territory that has been under prolonged occupation. These conditions are part of a broader and ongoing conflict, deeply rooted in historical and political injustices, contributing to significant human suffering and hardship.