THE GAZA COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMME
GCMHP was founded in 1990 by Gaza’s first ever Psychiatrist - Dr. Eyad El Sarraj - during a civil uprising known as the First Intifada. He recognised that Israel's response to the uprising was inflicting deep psychological damage on thousands of children, as they experienced the death or imprisonment of their parents, the demolishing of their homes, night incursions by Israeli military, and beatings by Israeli soldiers. In response, he established a small clinic of three staff members. Since then, their work has grown. There are now four clinics and over 70 full-time staff members.
GCMHP seeks to empower the most vulnerable members of Gazan society, namely women, children and torture survivors. They:
- provide mental health services and training programmes
- promote principles of democracy and human rights
- combat the stigma attached to mental illness in Palestinian society
- familiarise the international community with living conditions in Gaza
Over half of Gaza’s population are under the age of eighteen, and GCMHP’s children’s team provides therapeutic and preventative services to reduce mental health concerns and promote resilience among this group. This includes play therapy, school mediation programmes, and community activities with parents, teachers, school counsellors, and other professionals working with children. They advocate for children's rights as well, both locally and internationally, seeking to protect them from violence.
'GCMHP' is the Gaza Strip's leading organisation in the field of mental health. They work to improve the mental wellbeing of Gazans by treating psychological and emotional symptoms that result from living under a blockade and experiencing military violence; enhancing the capacity of Gazans to withstand such pressures; and creating an environment more conducive to good mental health, through advocacy and campaigning.