‘Participate for your mental health’: Tackling mental health stigma in Gaza

In Gaza, as around the world, mental ill health continues to carry with it social stigma and discrimination. This is why Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has partnered with a local organisation, Friends for Mental Health (FFMH) to promote awareness and understanding of the rights of mental health service-users and to encourage greater protection and integration into society.

Last month, FFMH and MAP held eleven days of public campaigning and advocacy events in Gaza called ‘Participate for Your Mental Health’, hosted by the Rawasi Society and headed by a group of eighteen volunteers from FFMH, media activists, and mental health service users.

In the first week, an orientation session was held to explain the goals of the campaign, covering three main topics; mental health issues and illness; the causes of psychological alienation of youth; and how to address this issue though inclusive social media advocacy and media campaigns in which the rights, needs, and issues of the end user are considered.

Through this activity, the group printed posters and booklets, and reached out to the public on twitter using the hashtag ‘شارك_لصحتك_النفسية#’ (‘#Share_Your_Health’), reaching around 3 million people inside Gaza and beyond. At the end of the campaign, they held a tour in Gaza City and Middle Area to visit universities and the clinics to talk to the public about the mental health.

The campaign ended with small public party in the centre of Gaza City to dance Dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance.

Below, you can see some of the photos of this campaign!