The recent upsurge in rocket fire on the South has caused an increase in the level of anxiety among the general public, ERAN - Emotional First Aid by Telephone and Internet announced on Sunday.

According to the organization, which provides a 24-hour hotline for emotional support, it has marked an 18 percent increase in calls since the barrage of rockets against southern Israel began a few days ago.

“The difficult images seen in the media raise emotional distress, confusion, anger and helplessness among parents and children alike, and among people who feel vulnerable due to exposure to past traumatic events,” Dr. Shiri Daniels, national professional director at ERAN, said.

According to Daniels, there has been a notable rise in the frequency of calls by parents who are anxious and are having trouble dealing with their children’s worries.

“The fears intensified, in part, against the backdrop of the presence of children and youth on vacation and due to their extensive exposure to anxiety- provoking reports, including on the murder of the teens and the escalation in the South,” she explained.

She added that just talking to someone about the anxiety and the media reports brings a sense of relief to many parents and children.

David Koren, executive director of ERAN, said he instructed call centers in various locations to draft more volunteers due to the expected increase in calls.

“In the early days of Operation Pillar of Defense, ERAN received 12,000 calls. As such, we are preparing in advance for any scenario and are operating under increased staffing,” Koren said.

In the past year ERAN received around 160,000 calls, in which hundreds were treated for suicidal thoughts, hundreds more were victims of anxiety, and thousands reported panic surrounding violent events, including children and the elderly.

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