Dr Esti Galili-Weisstub is one of the foremost child psychiatrists in Israel.  She is well-known to supporters of Hadassah Australia, through her work with children in Jerusalem dealing with often complex psychosocial issues.

Dr Galili-Weisstub heads up the Jerusalem Crisis Intervention Center (JCIC), supported by Hadassah Australia as well as a cross-border training program, the Binational School of Psychotherapy, supported by Project Rozana.

The COVID-19 pandemic has blurred the lines of her engagement.

The pandemic has upended many of our preconceived ideas, none more so than in the area of mental health.

Dr Galili-Weisstub was quick to realise that in one of Israeli’s busiest hospitals – one literally at the coalface of the pandemic – it was staff and adult patients who needed to be supported. Her focus widened to embrace adults.

She joined the team that is supporting hospital staff and patients in the COVID-19 outbreak wards. 

“Personnel in the Coronavirus wards endure tremendous stress and are simply too tired to pick up the phone & ask for help."

As the pandemic turned the country’s hospitals into war zones, and health workers began working around the clock under extreme stress, psychiatry became acutely important.

Together with her colleagues at Hadassah, she created a hotline for caregivers, while also providing face-to-face therapy to help them cope with the extreme stress generated by the pandemic.

But children remain her first love.

As director of the Herman Dana Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hadassah, and its Australian-supported Jerusalem Crisis Intervention Center (JCIC), Dr Galili and her team have worked tirelessly as the Division’s workload has increased exponentially across the board, and without an increase in personnel.

“The pressure generated by the pandemic restrictions and self-isolation during the past year has been unprecedented,” says Ron Finkel AM, President of Hadassah Australia.

“Many of the hospitalised and JCIC out-patient children are presenting with eating disorders and suicidal tendencies.”

The Division has also launched a project to mentor and support community workers who have been overburdened during the ongoing crisis.

Halting family visits to hospitalised children in the psychiatric unit and complying with social distancing and wearing masks during counselling, represented significant handicaps. 

“The value of the interpersonal experience of sitting in the same room with a patient cannot be overstated,” Dr Galili-Weisstub says. 

“With masks, it is immensely difficult to gauge facial expressions that are so crucial to treatment.”

With each new crisis within a crisis, the team at Hadassah is rising to meet each challenge head-on. Never before has our support of their life-saving work been so important.

You can support Dr Galili-Weisstub and the JCIC.