The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the devastating and disproportionate effects of structures of violence that produce vulnerability in communities of color globally, including with respect to mental health-care provision. While coping and resilience are dominant mainstream frameworks to understand mental health in crisis—both in Palestine and elsewhere—the three contributors to this roundtable were asked to offer a rejoinder to that approach. They reflect on the pandemic as an opportunity to revisit how we understand and advocate for critical approaches to mental health in Palestine in the midst of prolonged crisis.
On Mental Health Amid Covid-19
Weeam Hammoudeh is assistant professor at Birzeit University's Institute of Community and Public Health, where she is also the coordinator for the Mental Health Unit. Her areas of academic interest include the impact of political and social transformations on health, psychosocial well-being, and demographic processes, particularly in conflict areas; her research also examines the ways that health systems and social institutions develop and shift in relation to political, economic, and structural factors.
Samah Jabr is a psychiatrist practicing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. She is currently the head of the Mental Health Unit at the Ramallah-based Ministry of Health. She is also a mental health and development consultant to international organizations and the author of Derrière les fronts: Chroniques d'une psychiatre psychothérapeute Palestinienne sous occupation (Paris: Hybrid Pulse, 2018).
Maria Helbich is a clinical psychotherapist who specializes in gender-based violence and trauma and was working in the oPt until recently. She has offered mental health services to survivors of violence in a victim protection facility, as well as in child protection and women's centers, and has also worked in Lebanon.
Cindy Sousa is associate professor of social work at Bryn Mawr College. In her scholarship, Sousa promotes understanding about the conditions of underlying health, using a lens informed by feminist and critical race theories that prioritize the social, environmental, and political contexts of well-being. Currently, she has several ongoing projects focused on the challenges, strengths, and strategies of families during war and the refugee experience.
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Weeam Hammoudeh, Samah Jabr, Maria Helbich, Cindy Sousa; On Mental Health Amid Covid-19. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 August 2020; 49 (4): 77–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2020.49.4.77
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