Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton and Minister of Welfare and Social Security Meir Cohen today (Thursday) held an emergency discussion on the state of mental health among children and adolescents and agreed on the establishment of two emergency teams.
In light of a wave of appeals of mental distress to the mental health system among children and youth, and in light of a significant lack of therapeutic responses and the therapeutic sequence in mental health, the ministers met to discuss national emergency plans. The consequences of the corona epidemic, isolation and closure have led to a state of emergency in mental health among Israeli children and an increase in the incidence of mental disorders. There is a sharp increase in inquiries to all treatment frameworks including clinics, day care, emergency rooms, hospitalizations and emergency lines and private treatments.
In a meeting between the ministers, it was decided to establish two teams led by the Ministry of Health and in cooperation with the Ministries of Education and Welfare. One emergency team will recommend immediate solutions and a second team will discuss long-term solutions and build a plan that will ensure the quality of care for years to come. The teams will start working immediately and will give their recommendations within a week. The programs will address shortening waiting times, establishing new treatment centers for children and youth, adding standards, strengthening mental health in the community and hospitalization alternatives such as "Homes balance" And integrative centers, setting up home visiting teams and more.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said: "We are in a national emergency in mental health. It is a silent epidemic that the corona has caused all over the world, and is no less severe than the disease itself. We face a huge wave of appeals of mental distress, especially among children and adolescents. It takes a combination of hands between offices to provide an immediate response to those who need assistance and to save lives, just like that. The professional team we set up today will submit an action plan for treating the mental health epidemic within a week. This matter must not be taken lightly. Must act now and so done."
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton said: "After two complex years of isolation and lack of routine, we are witnessing a marked increase in the distress of children and youth also in the field of mental health. The cooperation between the three ministries will help increase the necessary responses in the immediate term, as well as create long-term moves, within them, improving wages and employment conditions in the therapeutic professions where there is a shortage of space.".
Minister of Welfare and Social Security Meir Cohen added: “We are in an emergency. During the corona period the coping of teens and children is very complex and has long-term effects. We must act from a perception of emergency. Our cooperation with the Ministries of Health and Education is necessary, we need to give immediate answers to mental health issues in children and youth in all our frameworks. Especially now, these responses are necessary and we will address them with cooperation and prompt action. “