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Aliyah ministry launches mental health helpline for new immigrants

CM 02/02/2021 1


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The Aliyah and Integration Ministry launched a mental health helpline for new immigrants on Tuesday to assist those facing difficulties.
The helpline will be staffed five days a week for five hours from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and mental health experts will provide their services free of charge in English, Russian, Amharic, French and Spanish.
The new service comes against the backdrop of the COVID-19 health crisis which has generated high unemployment, with higher rates amongst new immigrants, and cut immigrants off from their families abroad.
“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus there has been a sharp rise in reports of citizens in mental distress, anxiety, loneliness, and difficulties dealing with the challenges of corona,” Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said upon the launch of the new initiative.
She added that emotional challenges are often exacerbated for new immigrants “by a range of additional obstacles, like the language barrier and the inherent challenges of transitioning to a new country.”
“That’s why I instructed my office to launch a help hotline to offer emotional assistance to immigrants, to supplement the financial support and other supportive tools that the ministry offers immigrants across the different areas,” Tamano-Shata said.
Orna Yosef, a social worker employed by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry who is involved in the running of the new hotline, says that what has concerned her during the COVID-19 crisis is the depth of the crises facing some new immigrants due to the heightened challenges they are facing.

She said that although the ministry has an existing program to help new immigrants facing mental health problems, the current coronavirus crisis meant that there was now a need to bolster the ministry’s services.
“The difficulties are deeper, especially the loneliness and the lack of information,” said Yosef.
She noted that new immigrants without family in Israel, singles, one parent families and those who have not yet been able to form a social circle and network as being particularly badly affected, as well as those who were not in regular employment before the health crisis began.
Yosef said that these challenges and accompanying mental health problems were present across the different immigrant populations.
“Any immigrant who is experiencing feeling stressful and anxious can call this hotline and we will help provide an answer,” she said, adding that follow up calls will also be available or, if necessary, a reference to other professionals.
LiAmi Lawrence, director of the Keep Olim NGO which assists new immigrants, said he has been disappointed in general with the state’s level of assistance to new immigrants facing mental health problems and described the new program as “too little too late.”
Lawrence said his phone has been “ringing off the hook” in recent weeks with new immigrants facing different problems. He already provides 120 people with free weekly counseling through a network of 60 volunteer councilors.
He also noted that Keep Olim has dealt with 350 crisis phone calls over the last four years.
The organization will be launching a 24 hour crisis hotline next month to help new immigrants in distress which will also be available in multiple languages.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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