Editorial: Mental Health Issues in Arab Society

Article excerpt

I am honored to be the guest editor of this issue, which discusses mental health issues in Arab societies from different points of view. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time an Israeli journal has dedicated such extensive attention and intent to this important subject and I felicitate this.

The field of mental health is one of the issues that can form a bridge between the Arab and the Jewish people in the Middle East. Through discussions on mental health we try and create a dialogue between mental health practitioners/researchers which can lead to raising the awareness and promoting the understanding of mental health issues in Arab societies such as Egypt, Palestinian, and Palestinian-Arabs in Israel, as well as in Western societies. Just a few days ago I returned from a seminar in Turkey which included researchers from the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Ben-Gurion University. We discussed the details of a joint research study on how exposure to political violence influences the mental health status of Palestinian and Israeli adolescents. This is one example of endless possibilities and ways that the mental health domain can be used to build a useful and successful collaboration.

Mental health in the Arab world is a very delicate and multifaceted subject, and a thorough examination must encompass aspects such as the socio-cultural-political, as well as the spiritual and religious domain and this issue provides the reader with a more detailed picture of some of these topics.

Gordon and Murad write a fitting introduction. While originally accepted for publication seven years ago, when this issue was first planned, its observation remain very relevant despite the years and the subsequent events. Al-Ashhab, responsible for community mental health in the West Bank, also describes the development of services over the last fifty years. In a second updated paper, Thabet and Vostanis describe the mental health characteristics of children from Gaza, who have been referred to various types of services: community mental health centers, primary health centers and pediatric hospitals. …