Israel’s Finance Ministry guarantees priority for mental health

Science and Health

The Finance Ministry agreed to give treatment for emotional and mental problems high priority after a stormy and tense discussion on Monday in the Knesset Health Committee, 

“The war created an unprecedented event in mental health, and we are again calling on the Health Ministry to coordinate among the relevant bodies in the country that are involved in this,” said committee chairman MK Yonatan Mashriki, who demanded that the Treasury will ensure there will be no delay in transferring the required budget for the ministry’s National Plan for Mental Resilience, 

According to ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov, a national mental-resilience plan is in the final stage of being prepared with the Treasury, and budgeting and standards will be regulated. Effective and quick treatment for acute trauma and other problems can cut by half the number of chronic post-trauma stress syndrome (PTSD), he said.

“The assistance must include the patient, his family, the community, and the education system, and obviously it must be adapted to each patient.”

The Treasury now understands that there is a need for a significant improvement in the salaries of psychologists in the public system, and the number of psychiatrists for adults and children will also be significantly increased, Bar Siman Tov added. 

(credit: YOTAM RONEN)

How are survivors coping?

Moshe Lotem, the father of Hagar Brodetz, and her children Ofri (10 years old), Yuval (eight years) and Oriya (4.5 years old), who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, talked about the growing concern for their safety. 

“The time that passes shows that something is wrong here; they should have been home already. My seven grandchildren were born and raised in not far from the Gaza Strip. Anxiety is a part of their lives, the alarms and the rockets tear their souls, and someone should have prevented this from occurring for two decades. If they don’t come back,  life here will be different.”  


Shmuel Brodetz, Hagar’s father-in-law, warned against the emotional suffering of the abductees’ families, “mainly because of the lack of news – for 38 days now. The government must call for a ceasefire and then the International Red Cross must visit the abductees.”

Shahar Mor, the nephew of one of the abductees, told about his ongoing mental distress from the Six Day War, adding that “and it’s the duty of every public figure to do everything to bring them back.”

Nir Alon, a member of Kibbutz Sufa, told about the many hours of terror in the protected rooms and warned of the lack of an accurate list of tge hostages taken to Gaza Strip during the war. 

Yesh Atid MK Matti Sarfati Harkavi called on the government to take action to return the abductees. MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) said that every child must be at home with his family. MK Yasser Hujirat (Ra’am) hoped for a cease-fire and an end to the war and preserving the fabric of life among Israeli Jews and Arabs.  

Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan (Likud) maintained that her call to “flatten Gaza” wouldn’t harm the effort to free the abductees but to enable the residents of the enclave to return to their homes.  During the discussion, a verbal confrontation broke out between her and some of the families of the abductees.

Attorney Daniel Raz, from the Justice Ministry, said that some of the survivors of the rave party where most where slaughtered have already been hospitalized by force in psychiatric institutions and that there was an inadequate amount of mental health care for some of the evacuees.

According to Yael Lindenberg, health coordinator in the Treasury’s budget department, promised that “immediate solutions for budgeting, reimbursement and standards in mental health are being formulated now, and they will have top priority in addition to the priority they will get in the 2024 budget. 

Part of this year’s budget has already been transferred to the caring organizations. Yifat Sade from the Forum for Public Psychology said that thousands of psychologists are ready to return to the public system, but not as freelancers or volunteers.