WIZO creates new trauma support program for Jewish women, youth

Science and Health

WIZO has revealed new “Emotional Resilience” programs across its educational institutions, which offer a psycho-educational system to strengthen personal resilience, acquire psychological coping skills, and create deep connections with others.

WIZO is an Israeli women zionist organization that is dedicated to the advancement of the status of women, welfare for all sectors of Israeli society, and encouragement of Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora.

The purpose of the five programs is to create a process of building resilience in the face of trauma. These new programs draw from already existing WIZO therapy programs. 

“The current war exacts an unbearable toll, physically and mentally. Its effects on adolescents are evident today and will continue to appear in the near and distant future. Youth will grow, mature, and flourish during and after the war. We will do everything in our power to be there for them now and in the future. We will even strengthen ourselves by sharing together, they are the future generation of Israeli society and the State of Israel,” World WIZO Chairperson Anita Friedman said regarding these new programs. 

The programs target a variety of areas

The programs target self-awareness development, the ability for self-defense, increasing positive self-image and interpersonal skills which, when combined, are supposed to result in increased resilience.

Activities for youth done in WIZO youth villages. (credit: WIZO)

The programs are titled Shield, Empowerment, Leadership, Selfree, and Healing Wind. 

The Shield program will teach adolescents self-defense skills to promote personal safety. The program will hold reflective discussions and awareness building exercises led by certified instructors.

he program will emphasize personal space and boundaries and cultivate a sense of control amid periods of uncertainty, particularly in times of war.   

The Empowerment program will be led by professional artists to help participants build self-expression, creativity, and friendships through artistic engagement. The program will hold group workshops to explore, experiences, thoughts, and emotions through art.

The artistic mediums that will be explored include creative writing, visual art, theater, poetry, street art, dance, graphic design, and photography. Both theory and practical skills will be taught in the workshops. 

The Leadership program seeks to build strong women leaders while guiding girls to envision themselves as effective agents of change in a variety of environments. This program will provide instruction on leadership skills.

This program seeks to increase leadership and teamwork skills, understanding of equality and feminism, along addressing social issues. 

The Selfree program was initially launched in October 2022. It targets Israeli adolescents to promote positive body image and self-perception. The program aims to empower youth to drive positive change in society, and to foster a sense of empowerment, control, and influence over societal norms, particularly during these tumultuous times. 

The final program, Healing Wind, provides emotional support and coping methods for recovery from trauma and grief. This program will include workshops for processing trauma and grief, social-emotional support, and educational programs for both students and staff.

The workshops for students will focus on initial intervention and resilience-building activities, while staff training will cover coping strategies and first aid intervention. Individual treatment plans will be developed for each student and staff member when relevant.

Since the atrocities on October 7 and the ensuing war that followed, Israelis are experiencing high levels of PTSD, trauma, and related mental health issues. Experts say the country is confronting the most severe mental trauma wave since its founding. Clalit Health Services reported a 25% increase in psychiatric drug usage, a 52% rise in anxiety-related cases, and a 45% surge in post-trauma diagnoses. As the war unfolds, experts are continuing to navigate the mental health crisis that has gripped the nation.