Mental health support helps an ISIS survivor to embrace life again

May 19, 2023

Lebanon represents a complex and under-reported emergency which is exacerbated by the protracted Syrian refugee crisis, hyperinflation, the Beirut explosion in August 2020, and rising political unrest. As a result, more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians and 1.5 million vulnerable Lebanese are living in a failed state and are in dire need of life-saving assistance.

Jesuit Missions has been providing support to Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Lebanon with its Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services to improve the protection and mental health of vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees through providing services and awareness-raising sessions. Overall in 2022, almost 1,000 people benefitted from this support.


11-year-old "Moe" (name has been changed to protect his identity) is one of the children who has benefited from the mental health support provided by the JRS Lebanon team. His family came to Lebanon from a town called Raqqa in Syria, which at one point was the headquarters of ISIS. Moe witnessed horrors including the beheading of a man and his son, and he carried that trauma with him long after his family fled Syria in 2017.

After the family arrived in Lebanon, Moe became more and more reclusive, avoided speaking, and had recurring nightmares about people trying to harm him. He also developed anaemia, lost weight and developed vitiligo all over his body. His situation became even worse after the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 which destroyed his family’s home, and the noise brought back memories of the bombing during his last days in Syria.

When Moe’s parents became aware of the free mental health support provided by JRS, they enrolled him to begin therapy with JRS’ psychologist and his mental state has hugely improved as a result of the ongoing therapy sessions: he has regained a sense of security, is eating again, and is learning to manage feelings of rage and sadness. Now that he is on the path of healing, he is beginning to live a more regular life as all children should have the right to. "My son has made significant progress. He no longer has nightmares. He is at ease and enjoys playing with his sisters. Thank you, JRS Lebanon, from the bottom of my heart”, said his father.

Moe is one of the many children affected by violence and conflict as a result of the war in Syria. The current deteriorating situation in Lebanon makes it difficult for children to feel safe and recover from the violence they have experienced. Psychosocial support is a critical resource for children to be able to cope with the past and future protection risks they may face. JRS remains committed to support children like Moe find their future.

To help more children like Moe, please donate here.

Photo by Mahmoud Sulaiman on Unsplash

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