IDF: 82% of soldiers treated for mental health since Oct. 7 are returning to duty

Military’s mental health system checks some 3,000 troops, says returning to army prevents development of long-term disorders

Israeli soldiers operate in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli soldiers operate in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on January 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Most soldiers who have been treated by mental health officers since October 7 are returning to their unit, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Around 3,000 soldiers in compulsory service or the reserves have been checked by the military’s mental health system, with 82% returning to battle. Three-quarters of those treated for post-trauma symptoms at a designated center at the IDF’s Tzrifin base have returned to duty, following a mutual decision made by the soldier and the mental health professional who worked with them.

These statistics were first reported on Thursday by the Hebrew-language Kan news network and later confirmed to The Times of Israel by the IDF Spokesperson’s office.

“The fact that they return to their role or to the army is a protective shield that helps prevent the development of a long-term disorder,” Lt. Col. Dr. Michal Lifshitz, head of the clinical division of the IDF’s mental health service, told Kan.

Lifshitz attributed the positive outcomes to good preparedness, sufficient mental health staffing, and an approach that has put mental health at the forefront with support available to soldiers not only within Israel but also in combat areas.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 360 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Israeli soldiers react to the cameras as army vehicles arrive at an staging area after combat in the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Dec. 30, 2023. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

Vowing to destroy the terror group and return the hostages, Israel launched a wide-scale air and ground campaign in Gaza, now in its 119th day.

The IDF has published the names of 560 soldiers, officers and reservists — many of whom are local security officers — killed during the ongoing war with Palestinian terrorists since October 7, mostly on the border with the Gaza Strip, with at least 223 during the ground offensive in the Hamas-run territory.

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