Increase in the proportion of Israeli soldiers seeking psychological assistance by 40%

TEL Aviv _ Agencies

The number of Israeli soldiers in the regular service who have been held with the army's psychotherapists has risen by 40 percent in the past 10 years, the daily Haaretz reported Sunday.

According to a report published by a military magazine, "Ha'aretz", the previous year, for example, 47 thousand encounters between soldiers and army psychiatric officers, an increase of 2,500 interviews conducted during 2013.

The head of the Israel Air Force Psychiatric Treatment section, Laza Shalaf, warned that the "big change (i.e. increasing numbers of treated soldiers) since 2010 may lead to a decline in the performance of Psychotherapists."

"This increase is considered too extreme," the report said.

"The reasons for this rise are linked to the difficult socio-economic situation of large sectors of the Israelis, with motivation of military service, a growing willingness to earn money and the use of time for the personal needs of soldiers," she said.

"The pressure on psychotherapists will have a negative impact on their performance and their ability to mitigate the psychological problems of the soldiers, which may be reflected in the escalating violence that soldiers may have against their therapists," she said.

According to "Ha'aretz", military officials of the Israeli army said that another reason why the soldiers had to ask for psychological help was a substantial increase, namely, that they were assigned tasks in combat brigades and units.

They added that the army was trying to shorten the time between applying for an interview with Psychotherapists and conducting the interview.

The waiting period currently ranges from hours to days, but the army has recommended that the commanders urgently turn the soldiers in distress for treatment, and not wait for their situation to deteriorate sharply, in order to prevent suicides among them.

According to data for 2018, provided by the army on the basis of the right to Information Act, "Ha'aretz" states that most of those seeking psychiatric treatment are soldiers serving in the Land Corps, which includes most of the special units and brigades with combat capabilities.

The data also indicated that one in six soldiers and one out of every 15 recruits did not complete their military service, owing to their request for early demobilization of the army for reasons of psychological problems.

"The Army's psychiatric system is working normally and in an emergency to maintain the safety of the soldiers, the number of psychotherapists has increased and the guidance provided to commanders to help soldiers in difficult circumstances has been increased," Haaretz quoted an Israeli army spokesman as saying.



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