On August 16, YES alumna Sarah Almzainy organized a second session on mental health for 19 English Access Microscholarship (Access) program students and two YES alumni at Amideast/Gaza. The session was facilitated by Hind Alwihaidi, leader of the Trauma-Free Initiative in Gaza, and YES alumna Tala Shurrab, who currently works as a mental health peer support worker in the UK. The initiative aims to raise awareness of mental health among teenagers and break the stigma around mental health disorders.
This session was the second in the event series which Sarah hopes will teach teenagers in Gaza about psychology and how to better understand themselves while dealing with trauma. The goal of these sessions is for the students and alumni to become familiar with the reasons behind our behavioral responses and to provide an open and judgement-free space for discussion.
In August, Gaza experienced the most intense conflict with Israel since May 2021. The violence lasted three days and heavily impacted civilian populations within the area. After this latest political unrest, there was an increased need for a comforting atmosphere for youth to express their feelings. The session focused on how to have a positive outlook, how to process negative emotions, and the importance of media literacy to avoid inaccurate information.
By the end of the session, the participants were able to openly share their feelings on previous and recent traumatic incidents. They talked about their coping mechanisms for dealing with life after traumatic events and helped one another try to heal.
Sarah Almzainy (YES 2015-2016, Gaza, placed by AYA in Evansville, IN)
Karam Saidam (YES 2018-2019, Gaza, placed by CIEE in Seattle, WA)
For more stories like this see the links below.
The first session in the series: Here
Article about mental health by YES alumna Tala Shurrab: Here
Event led by Sarah on personal and professional relationships: Here