sderot woman trauma 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Maya Ehrmann writes for No Camels.
When outsiders visit Israel, they often comment that the atmosphere in
the tiny country feels like a giant, continuous party. The sun, beach
and Israeli laid-back attitude help ferment the image of a country at
odds with its media presentation as war-torn.
But the truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.
may often act like life is a party, but according to NATAL, Israel’s
Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, the compulsory army service
and constant threat of terrorism and war lead to large numbers of
people suffering from trauma.
NATAL calls it “National Trauma.”
form of trauma differs from other forms,” the organization says. “It is
the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from
national traumas. Individuals suffering from combat stress, people
injured in terrorist attacks, children who lost their parents, parents
who lost their children and brothers and sisters who lost siblings in
military operations or terrorist attacks are all too common in Israel.”
explains: “When these individuals overcome their initial shock and
return to their normal daily routines, they remain in a state of pain
and suffering. These individuals will forever pay the price of the
Arab-Israeli conflict and it is up to us, to extend a hand and help them
overcome their tragedies.”
To cope with the wide numbers of
trauma victims from all walks of life in Israel, NATAL, created in 1998,
has had to constantly innovate and create new methods of treating
Beyond the organization’s clinical care center; its
social rehabilitation club and training center, one of NATAL’s biggest
successes has been its trauma hotline.
hotlines where there are generally no follow-ups, NATAL’s offers ongoing
telephone treatment with the same volunteer therapist, for as long as
One of NATAL’s volunteers, who wishes to remain
anonymous, told NoCamels: “Through the hotline, a real connection is
made as the same volunteer accompanies the patient continuously
throughout the whole treatment process, sometimes for years at a time.
Phone treatment is also very clean of bias or misconception. All you can
hear is a voice. You can’t see the person; whether they are old or
young, scruffy or pretty. The patients never see those treating them.”
of the hotline’s patients are ex-army personnel (men for the most part)
who are often embarrassed to seek psychological treatment. “Many
soldiers only realize something is wrong with them once they go back to
their daily routine, and this may only be years later,” the volunteer
But the trauma organization also places particular focus on its
Children’s Hotline(CHI), founded following the second Lebanon war, to
provide specific assistance for children. Hotline specialists realized
that parents often transfer their own anxieties to their children. “As
long as rockets fall into Israel from Gaza, we’ll have children calling
the hotline,” one volunteer said.
The Second Lebanon War also revealed the vulnerability of the elderly,
according to NATAL. “They can’t run as fast as others do to the bomb
shelters in times of crisis; also, they sometimes cannot leave the
house. They often feel especially afraid and vulnerable,” the volunteer
NATAL’a trauma hotline provides assistance to the elderly through
telephonic treatment, home visitations, as well as instructing
caretakers how to handle elderly trauma victims.
The organization is also training specialists and other organizations in
the Arab sector, to help provide assistance to Arab-Israelis suffering
from trauma. At the moment, The Hotline provides assistance to patients
in several languages, including Hebrew, English, Amharic and Russian,
but is seeking to expand this pool of languages.
“The variety of services we offer allows us to create personalized treatment packages for each patient based on their needs.”
NATAL is widely recognized in Israel; so much so that it holds a special
seat at the Prime Minister’s “round table” in the official Israeli
Security Operations room. According to hotline specialists, NATAL’s seat
at the “round table” is “a barometer of the nation’s mental health.”No Camels - Local solutions to global problems.
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