CACAP Statement on the Situation in the Middle East and its Impact on Children’s Mental Health

It has been over six months since the devastating attack onIsraeli civilians on October 7.  In the time that has followed, we have borne witness to the destruction of health care settings and the profound Palestinian loss of life.

As the conflict rages on, we as children’s mental health professionals are being asked how to support the mental health of children and young people in Palestine and Israel, as well as the young people worldwide who have loved ones in either country, or who feel a deep tie to the region due to their heritage, ethnicity, or religious background.

To this, we can only say – the mental health intervention we recommend is a ceasefire and the return of all hostages.

In psychiatry, we often must tease apart the structural from the individual to determine the best care for our patients. In so doing, it is our job to know when to recommend medications or psychotherapy, and when to name the structural determinants of health as the cause of mental distress.

There can be no mental health when children are fighting to survive or when they are separated from their loved ones.  The distress is directly related to the on-going conflict, and the cure is a ceasefire.

We call upon our colleagues and global leaders to advocate for a ceasefire and return of hostages now. It is time to turn our attention to healing and caring for our living. We must be brave and humane. We must choose life, and as physicians, we must be allowed the conditions to start the arduous task of healing.