Leaders cutting the ribbon at the dedication ceremony
By Nativia Samuelsen

Experts are warning of a growing mental health crisis in Israel due to the current war with Hamas, with one in three individuals impacted by the conflict expected to grapple with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in the months ahead. The national health services already report a 25% increase in psychiatric drug usage, a 52% surge in anxiety-related cases, and a 45% rise in post-trauma diagnoses.

A new medical study of 700 Israelis also confirmed that the prevalence of PTSD has almost doubled since October 7. The lead researcher noted that 38% of respondents have considered suicide. As a result, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has insisted that strengthening the mental health system must be a “top national priority in the long years of rehabilitation ahead of us.”

In response, the ICEJ has been supporting a range of rehabilitation and therapeutic efforts. One such initiative is a brand new ‘Balancing Home’ for PTSD patients in Migdal HaEmek, in northern Israel. The home is a haven for those experiencing acute trauma symptoms, including IDF soldiers, survivors of the Nova music festival massacre, kibbutzim victims, and veterans from previous wars.

ICEJ plaque

The Christian Embassy provided the initial start-up funding to completely renovate the apartment building to serve as a safe haven for PTSD sufferers. Our decision to invest in the new treatment center came before the war, not yet fully realizing how crucial it would be for so many hurting Israelis.

One aspect which drew the ICEJ to the project, was that the recovery home will be a self-sustaining business with state health funds and disability grants covering the costs of treatment, thus guaranteeing long-term financial stability. The founders are confident this first model home will prove so successful, they will be able to establish similar self-supporting homes all across Israel.

The home is using a range of creative therapy practices, such as music and art, gardening, animal therapy with dogs, resilience building, and much more. The home also will arrange individual and group therapy sessions to work through bad memories and their triggers, and to develop coping techniques.

Recently, the ICEJ staff paid a visit to dedicate the new PTSD recovery home. As we entered, we were welcomed by the warmth of its beautifully designed rooms. Noting various board games and musical instruments placed around the home, there was a sense of community, of restoring hope and nurturing personal growth. Indeed, it is a transformative space that empowers residents to embrace the future again.

Indeed, Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President of AID & Aliyah, was told by one resident: “This place has given me my life back.”

Co-founder Maor Biton explained that “this home is a special model. Initially, homes like these were not regarded as effective. However, we have witnessed remarkable transformations among our residents, especially youth and young adults. The communal environment here fosters growth and encourages individuals to explore their giftings while also equipping them for the future.”

He added that the home had been in operation for only three weeks, and already the Ministry of Defense had referred individuals to them, even before they were ready to receive them.

Maor also noted that for most residents, the PTSD developed only once they returned to some sense of normality in familiar settings like their homes, schools, or workplaces, and that swift treatment can help prevent lifelong symptoms.

“Before the war, Israelis were already enduring long waits for psychological assistance, and now the situation is even more dire,” Maor explained. “Our priority is to respond promptly to those referred to the home, providing effective treatment to as many individuals as possible. And it is a joy to see that the treatment indeed works!”

Leaders celebrating the dedication

“Thank you for believing in us from the start and recognizing the importance of our vision. Your support means everything to us and to Israel,” Maor concluded.

ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler thanked our hosts for the warm reception and added: “We hold on to hope that one day, homes like these will no longer be needed. Until then, we remain committed to restoring normalcy and bringing healing to a nation in need.”

Going forward, this PTSD recovery home sponsored by the Christian Embassy will indeed stand as a beacon of hope and healing. With Israel’s growing mental health crisis, our continuing support is needed to help treat those traumatized by the current war. So, please give generously to our Israel in Crisis fund.

Donate today at:  give.icej.org/crisis