Mental Health Care Facility in Lebanon Struggles to Keep Afloat

Among the many needs at the Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross in Jal el Dib, Lebanon — such as affordable food, medication, fuel and utilities — are the needs of its 700 patients for love and affection, says Afife Bou Dib, who has been working in the hospital for 38 years.

However, the employee shortage at the hospital, caused by the country’s economic crisis, is making these deeply felt needs only more acute, she says. Numerous former employees have found better-paying work elsewhere or have moved abroad in search of more stable life circumstances.

The Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross is “the only one of its kind in the Middle East,” she adds. “I hope we will be able to continue our mission with the help of philanthropists.”

Sister Jeanette Abu Abdallah, hospital director, says the employee shortage runs across the entire staff, from health care professionals to social workers. She points out that Lebanon’s ministry of health has not sent the hospital any of its promised transfer payments and the hospital has depleted all of its savings in trying to keep its services going.

If the hospital closes its doors, most patients would be “on the streets, under bridges,” she says.

“It’s extremely difficult to secure the funds we need,” she says. “We don’t know how we are surviving. It’s a miracle that we’re still standing.”

Learn more about the challenges to psychiatric care in Lebanon in the video below by journalist Raghida Skaff. Then, read more about how Lebanon’s economic situation is impacting the most vulnerable in “Sinking Deeper” in the March 2023 edition of ONE.

Laura Ieraci is editor of ONE.

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