'Israel's psychiatric facilities unprepared to cope with PTSD victims during wars'

Yesh Atid MK urges Health Ministry to hurry and prepare operating procedures to deal with such victims.

March 28, 2016 21:44
2 minute read.
stress ptsd

A patient deals with stress [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Health Ministry is not ready to cope with those suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in a war, charged Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar at a meeting on Monday of the Knesset State Control Committee that she chairs.

She urged the ministry to hurry and prepare operating procedures to deal with such victims.

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The mechanisms for dealing with anxiety and PTSD victims “did not work well” during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, when missiles and rockets rained down on the country’s southern residents, said Elharar. Since then, quite a lot of work has been done, but the mental health system is not yet ready to fully cope with such a situation, she insisted.

The discussion was initiated by MK Haim Yellin, who said that those who are not treated for PTSD, including their families, can become addicted to drugs. He called for recognizing them as terrorism victims. Yellin initiated a bill relating to this, but he was asked to drop it in exchange for an internal decision related to a national authority for emergencies.

Existing state centers for treating PTSD victims are not funded as part of the basic budget of the Health and Social Welfare Ministries, Yellin added, and they are not officially recognized as part of the local councils and authorities.

The time has come, he said, to open such centers in all cities, because in their absence, trauma victims will come to the hospitals in droves.

Bella Ben Gershon, the Health Ministry official responsible for trauma victims, said that if a war breaks out, her office may not be fully ready to cope with the emotionally traumatized.

But the local authorities and the Education Ministry have learned lessons from Protective Edge. It was agreed that the four public health funds will also treat anxiety victims, and every clinic will treat every person who needs help, not only those who are members of other health funds. After the emergency is over, the insurers will reach accountings on payment.

Dr. Hava Friedman, head of the psychology branch of the Education Ministry, said children who suffer from PTSD are diagnosed too late and that there still are children who are being treated for it 18 months after the most recent war with Hamas broke out.

Ilan Lilly, a representative of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, claimed that long-term treatment of PTSD patients has not been considered, and that Beduin settlements who were also affected in the 2014 war did not have treatment centers in their area. Ilana Shlomo-Lalom, head of the health department in the Ashdod Municipality, said that Beduin Israelis prefer to get such treatment over the phone because they were afraid to leave their homes.

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