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Mental Health Effects of the War in Palestine and Israel

  • April 19, 2024
  • APA Leadership, Trauma

By the APA Global Mental Health Caucus Work Group

The war in Palestine and Israel has destroyed and imperiled the lives and the mental and physical health of Palestinians, Israelis, and others in the region. We express deep compassion for all those who are suffering as well as alarm for the future psychological and behavioral consequences that will affect the people caught in this conflict. The magnitude of death, destruction, and violence threatens to destabilize the region and has sent shock waves around the world, affecting many of us in our own communities.

Recognizing the potential for tensions abroad to affect relationships among healthcare professionals in the United States and internationally, we urge professional societies to be true to their healing missions and support their members by opposing stigmatization of professionals based on their personal opinions or heritage.

The people of Palestine and Israel are suffering from war injuries and death. Tens of thousands of Gazans have died from lack of access to food, water, and healthcare. Israelis bear the anguish of having loved ones killed or held hostage. War traumas shake the foundation of a child’s current and future emotional, psychological, and cognitive development with implications for their self-concept and relationships with others. The effects of this war will undoubtedly be felt for generations. All sides in this conflict desperately need safety, freedom from violence, and restoration of all components of civil society that will enable them to repair their lives and forge a brighter future.

We call upon mental health professionals to do all that they can to bring an end to this war as soon as possible and to support, through volunteerism, activism, leadership, and education, the recovery of war survivors and the healing of those with secondary trauma acquired while doing relief work in Gaza, Palestine, and Israel.

Forging a sustainable, equitable peace, and rebuilding what has been destroyed are daunting challenges. Mental health professionals can contribute their expertise regarding best practices in caring for those who have been displaced, injured, or traumatized. We can also help people deal with challenging emotions that are naturally aroused and inflamed by war, but that must be adaptively channeled for people to make peace, and eventually cooperate in the rebuilding and healing that must be done for all. Psychiatrists can also offer insights and relatedness to understand and contain suffering, while amplifying shared humanity and the possibilities of peace, healing, and cultural repair.

This crisis underscores the pressing needs of our interdependent world. We must move from anguish and conflict to deeper understanding, compassion, and goodwill.

More information

More information for those impacted is available on APA’s Coping After Disaster pages.

Additional resource below are available from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University and The National Child Traumatic Stress Networ.


APA Global Mental Health Caucus Work Group


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