During Gaza op, more men and younger Israelis called emotional support hotline

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Israeli emotional first-aid organization ERAN has released statistics related to the number of calls and online requests for assistance it received during the recent five-day Operation Shield and Arrow against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza.

Nearly half of the 4,660 calls — 48% — were from men, a jump from an average of 37% last year.

One-third of calls during the operation were from young adults and parents age 25-35. Requests for emotional support came in from people even younger, including 653 young adults and soldiers between the ages of 18-24, and 326 (7%) children and teens aged 17 and younger.

“These statistics show that in a time of emergency, the age of callers goes down. The number of calls we received from people under 17 doubled as compared to regular times. During the operation, we were even getting calls from children aged 7-10, which usually never happens,” says Dr. Shiri Daniels, executive director of counseling at ERAN.

Calls about trauma and anxiety were higher than normal, yet those relating to suicidal thoughts decreased from an average of 3% to 1%, likely due to people focusing on external threats during the security crisis.

As a rule, times of national crisis or security threats amplify existing anxieties and distress related to daily life, family relations, work and more.

“Emergency situations worsen existing emotional problems and exacerbate feelings of loneliness, especially in people with limited social support systems,” Daniels says.

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