By YAAKOV KATZ
Soldiers fighting in Lebanon have made proportionally fewer requests for psychological assistance than US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan over an equivalent period, the head of the army's mental health department, Col. Gadi Lubin, told The Jerusalem Post.
With some 20,000 soldiers in Lebanon, the IDF has increased the number of mental health officers along the northern border.
"We have beefed up our presence in the North to assist the commanders and help the soldiers," Lubin said.
"Every soldier who needs psychological assistance receives it," said Lubin, who has spent most of the past month in the North. "Every soldier has help if they need it."
Most of the mental health officers' work, Lubin said, was to "empower commanders" and give them the tools necessary to assist their soldiers, including helping them give motivational talks both before and after operations in Lebanon.
"The most effective work we can do is in prevention," he said. "Commanders turn to us and want to know what to do if they see signs of stress disorder. After operations, we meet with them to assist them in preventing the soldiers from experiencing such symptoms."
Lubin also said there had been a noticeable drop in the number of requests for mental health officers by soldiers at bases back in Israel. "There is a feeling of unity among soldiers," he said. "Everyone is doing what they can to help one another."
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