'I prefer to stay silent': exploring opportunities for and challenges to adolescents' psychosocial and mental health in Gaza

Briefing papers
March 2018
Bassam Abu Hamad, Ingrid Gercama, Nicola Jones and Nadia Al Bayoumi

This briefing paper draws on findings from a Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) mixed methods research study that explores the psychosocial and mental health challenges facing Gazan adolescent girls and boys – and their access to relevant and quality services. Using a gender lens, it draws on the responses of approximately 240 adolescents and 70 service providers.

Our research found that the Gazan context does not support adolescents’ psychosocial wellbeing. Girls in particular experience a double burden, as they are constrained not only by the occupation, political turbulence and poverty, but also by restrictive cultural norms. That said, we also found that adolescents strive to keep looking to the future. They take inspiration from their own self-assertiveness, the power of education and their families.

Although there are many psychosocial and mental health service providers active in Gaza, we found that formal services make a minimal contribution to adolescents’ support networks. On the whole, they are too fragmented and reactive, and are not adolescent-friendly. We suggest more cross-sectoral interventions that that consider the multi-faceted nature of psychosocial wellbeing and a greater awareness about the gendered needs and perspectives of adolescents.