Health Ministry encourages Israelis to seek mental health support, avoid self-medicating

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

People gather and light candles to remember the Israeli victims of the unprecedented Hamas terror onslaught, at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
People gather and light candles to remember the Israeli victims of the unprecedented Hamas terror onslaught, at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Health Ministry encourages Israelis to seek professional help to deal with the loss, emotional pain, and distress they are feeling in response to the unprecedented events that the country has been dealing with since October 7.

While sometimes medications can be beneficial, the ministry warns against using them during the acute post-trauma stage, especially not without consulting with a doctor. People should also avoid dealing with their feelings by using alcohol and cannabis.

“We emphasize that the use of cannabis has not been proven effective during the acute stage after a trauma and can even worsen the situation. Cannabis is only relevant for chronic situations, and only after the partial or full failure of talk therapy or drug treatments based on medical research.

“In the first weeks after a trauma, it is normal to exhibit symptoms relating to the unusual situation, but they generally pass with time. The main thing is to look to one’s inner strength and resilience and family and friends for support. Symptoms should gradually diminish, but if they don’t and they interfere with normal daily function, help from a mental health professional should be sought,” says Dr. Eyal Fruchter, chair of the National Council for Post-Trauma.

Information on where to obtain mental health support can be found on the Health Ministry website.

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