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Acceptability of Preventive Mental Health: Helping Children Cope with Displacement. Sharone L. Maital, Ph.D Director, Megiddo School Psychology Services,

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Presentation on theme: "Acceptability of Preventive Mental Health: Helping Children Cope with Displacement. Sharone L. Maital, Ph.D Director, Megiddo School Psychology Services,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Acceptability of Preventive Mental Health: Helping Children Cope with Displacement. Sharone L. Maital, Ph.D Director, Megiddo School Psychology Services, Senior School Psychology Director, Northern District & University of Haifa

2 The case of the Katif Settlers in Israel 21 Communities were uprooted from their homes in the summer of Communities were uprooted from their homes in the summer of I.e. they were given the (non) choice to relocate from their homes voluntarily or to be moved forcibly. Families generally lived in comfortable homes and highly compatible, mostly small cohesive and idealistic communities. Families generally lived in comfortable homes and highly compatible, mostly small cohesive and idealistic communities. The disengagement decision aroused considerable political disagreement. The disengagement decision aroused considerable political disagreement.

3 Sources of stress among displaced families Relocation, or moving to a new home involves Loss of Place Attachments. Relocation, or moving to a new home involves Loss of Place Attachments.

4 Sources of stress (cont’d) Any change can arouse a degree of stress Any change can arouse a degree of stress Stress increases especially if it is: Unexpected, Sudden, or Unplanned Unexpected, Sudden, or Unplanned Compulsory or against one ’ s will or preference Compulsory or against one ’ s will or preference Involves loss in multiple domains Involves loss in multiple domains Being displaced involves relocation under these highly stressful conditions Being displaced involves relocation under these highly stressful conditions

5 The School Psychologists’ Dilemma What do we do when we know there is an impending stressful situation and we truly want to help, yet our offers of help just increase the salience of the impending event and arouse resistance among those who most need our support?

6 Questions for Planning and Implementing Interventions Who should be the helpers? Who should be the helpers? On Whom should we focus our help? On Whom should we focus our help? When should we intervene? When should we intervene? Where should intervention efforts be conducted? Where should intervention efforts be conducted? What should we do? What interventions will be effective? What should we do? What interventions will be effective? How do we “ join ” children and families from displaced communities? How do we “ join ” children and families from displaced communities?

7 Preparations & Plans of the Israel School Psychology Administration A special unit within the National School Psychology & Counseling Services was set up to deal with the planned displacement. A special unit within the National School Psychology & Counseling Services was set up to deal with the planned displacement.

8 Working Guidelines of the Unit: Need to prepare both staff and students before the disengagement. Need to prepare both staff and students before the disengagement. An emphasis on emotional responses An emphasis on emotional responses BASIC- PH BASIC- PH Principle of Proximity, Immediacy, & Future Expectations (for continuity) vs Principle of Proximity, Immediacy, & Future Expectations (for continuity) vs Principle of Distancing, Delay, Closure Principle of Distancing, Delay, Closure

9 Difficulties Encountered Unwillingness of settlers to speak directly about the upcoming relocation. Unwillingness of settlers to speak directly about the upcoming relocation. Emotional preparation perceived as weakening defenses. Emotional preparation perceived as weakening defenses. Endorsement of intervention plans by religious & community leaders. Endorsement of intervention plans by religious & community leaders. Balance involvement and empathy with maintenance of a “ professional perspective ”. Balance involvement and empathy with maintenance of a “ professional perspective ”.

10 Difficulties Encountered cont’d Competing commitments & emotional involvement of professionals Competing commitments & emotional involvement of professionals Attempts to apply paradigms for intervention without sufficient consideration of the culture of the communities. Attempts to apply paradigms for intervention without sufficient consideration of the culture of the communities.

11 Working Guidelines (revised) Need for helpers from the same religious and cultural orientation Need for helpers from the same religious and cultural orientation Strength based Empowerment of existing community leaders Strength based Empowerment of existing community leaders Interdisciplinary Teamwork Interdisciplinary Teamwork

12 Lessons Learned Key Issues for helping Displaced Children and Families The importance of recognizing the depth of identity crises following displacement. The importance of recognizing the depth of identity crises following displacement. Displacement involves disruption to: Place attachments – a mutual caretaking bond between a person and a beloved place. Place attachments – a mutual caretaking bond between a person and a beloved place. Familiarity – development of detailed cognitive knowledge of our environs. Familiarity – development of detailed cognitive knowledge of our environs. Place identity – a sense of self based on places in which we live. Place identity – a sense of self based on places in which we live.

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14 Continuity – Taking identity symbols and precious community symbols

15 Key Issues cont’d Need to reconcile Multiple & Conflicting identities (Ben-Asher, in press) Need to reconcile Multiple & Conflicting identities (Ben-Asher, in press) Religious Jewish Identity Religious Jewish Identity Israeli Identity (with the State) Israeli Identity (with the State) Settler Identity Settler Identity Community Identity Community Identity Family Identity Family Identity Different Social Representations for each stage Different Social Representations for each stage In public and media presence In public and media presence With professionals from their own group With professionals from their own group At home in their families and community At home in their families and community In school In school

16 Key Issues cont’d Resources Lost Relative To Gains (Hobfall, 1989; 1991) Resources Lost Relative To Gains (Hobfall, 1989; 1991) Different Cultural Patterns: Different Cultural Patterns: Communal- mastery versus self mastery under stress (Hobfoll, Jackson, Hobfoll & Young, 2002)


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