Opinion and Editorial

Lebanese yearn for healing after traumatic blast

Christiane Waked
Filed on October 16, 2020


While Lebanese were always known for their resilience, today, they refuse this label and instead they feel angry

The World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year to raise awareness about the importance of mental wellbeing. This year after the Beirut blast on August 4 that caused the death of 191 people, injured around 6,000, and left 300,000 homeless, the Lebanese are still struggling to forget the scenes of wounded people, mourning, despair, and hopelessness.

The explosion at the port has scarred the Lebanese for life. According to the results of a study from the American University of Beirut (forthcoming), two-thirds of Beirut residents are suffering from sleep disturbances after the explosion.

The Lebanese are facing the worst economic crisis in years. While resentment towards the corrupt ruling politicians was growing over the years, the explosion was the last straw that broke the camel's back.

The double explosion at a warehouse in the port area was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that were stored inside. The government knew of the existence of this stockpile of ammonium nitrate and did nothing to protect its citizens. Since the explosion, the Lebanese are still waiting for an explanation or apology. It is their right to know the truth as the latter is the cornerstone to heal their profound emotional wound and trauma.

Today, the Lebanese feel abandoned and while there is an important necessity to treat their emotional wound, their economic situation is keeping them busy and preventing them from addressing their mental health issues. 

Nevertheless, their survival instinct is high and many Lebanese, not just Beirutis, have had their furniture moved in order not to face any window, door or glass. Trauma often leads to phobia that is a disguise for PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).

Even people who weren't injured physically during the Beirut blast carry deep emotional wounds that have a direct impact on their psyche. Emotional trauma and the suffering of the people should be treated with the same seriousness as physical wounds. 

However, today the major problem that Lebanon is facing is the lack of reliable mental health care services.

The double explosions at the port have pushed many people in the medical sector to leave the country. More than 300 doctors have left the country in the last few weeks and many others are preparing to leave. Several of them are still hanging on to their country despite getting halved salaries. Quite a few of them were sacked from their jobs.  Mental health issues especially for children and the young can have a lasting impression on their development if it not treated well early. The Lebanese need assistance to be able to do therapeutic interventions to overcome their emotional woes.

While Lebanese were always known for their resilience, today, they refuse this label and instead they feel angry because they feel their politicians abused their resilience and kept stealing from them for over 30 years.

The Lebanese don't want be resilient anymore, they want therapy and they definitely want healing.

Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut


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