Northern residents still suffering trauma of Second Lebanon War

Main ailments include high or very high levels of stress and post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms.

Katyusha 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Katyusha 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Sixteen months after the Second Lebanon War, a significant number of the residents of Kiryat Shmona suffer from high or very high levels of stress and post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms, according to a study conducted for the UJA-Federation of New York. In addition, nearly a third said they were not ready to cope with another war, while two-thirds think Kiryat Shmona's ability to withstand another war is low or very low. A vast majority expressed lack of trust in local authorities, the government and the army and disappointment in the way these institutions functioned during the war. The study found that 10 percent of adults and 8% of school pupils reported suffering from high or very high levels of such symptoms and, therefore, are at risk and in need of appropriate professional help. The study was conducted by Dr. Shaul Kimhi, Dr. Shira Hantman, Prof. Yohanan Eshel and Dr. Leehu Zysberg of Tel Hai Academic College's psychology and social work departments over the past few months. Most residents reported that the war significantly worsened their financial situation, and the strongest predictor of stress symptoms in adults is economic difficulty: The worse the economic situation, the more symptoms reported. The elderly reported the lowest levels of adaption to post-war life and were found to be in dire need of help to cope with stress symptoms, according to the study. On the other hand, schoolchildren and teachers reported higher levels of adaptation than other groups. The study also found that 16% of pupils and 5% of adults reported that the war experience had also led them to significant psychological gains, in improved relations with family and close friends. Moreover, 60% said they believed they would remain in Kiryat Shmona. Kimhi said that the report described one of the most comprehensive studies on the effects of the Second Lebanon War. He said it indicated possible ways to rehabilitate a population exposed to war. One practical conclusion of this research is that increased investment in economic development would have a major effect on the recovery of this population, he said. In addition, he said that social activity, hobbies and sports could accelerate post-war recovery in adults, adolescents and children. Since the war in the summer of 2006, the UJA-Federation of New York has been helping to rebuild the social and economic fabric of the city through investments in programs totaling more than $9.3 million.