Palestinian Mental Health without Borders: Challenging Barriers and Taking Down Walls


Yasser Abujamei, MD

Yasser Abujamei, MD, has been with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programs since 2004 playing different supervisory, clinical and research roles. He assumed the leadership of the institution in 2014 and continues to serve as the general director overseeing the general operations of the program in providing a world class mental health care with the limited resources available. He is a psychiatrist with training from: The University of Birmingham, UK; the Free University-Berlin, Germany; the Islamic University of Gaza; the Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuania; and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Association, Israel. Abujamei has served as a member of the Task Force that developed the Palestinian National Mental Health Strategy for 2015-2019. His research and evaluation work focus on: integrating mental health and human rights, resilience, surviving torture and post-graduate mental health education.

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Abeer Musleh, PhD

Abeer Musleh, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences and the coordinator of the Master Program of Social Work at Bethlehem University, Palestine. Her teaching and research focuses on macro practice of social work with special focus on community development, collective action, and social planning; youth empowerment and impact of context and institutions on the socialization of youth and building their resilience; and qualitative research. Current research focuses on youth in Jerusalem building resilience through engagement under risk. Previous research focused on the role of organizations on formation of young leaders, and Palestinian youth organizations resiliency and strategies to face challenges of colonization. She has held various positions with Palestinian NGOs and UN agencies on issues of youth and women participation, community mobilization, and development. Currently, she is the vice president for MENA region research committee 34: sociology of youth at the International sociological association.

Rita Giacaman

Rita Giacaman is a professor of public health at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Palestinian territory. Founder of the Institute in 1978, she served as a faculty member at Birzeit University, and as a researcher/practitioner with the 1980’s Palestinian social action, which led to the development of the Palestinian primary health care model. In the 1990s, she participated in building the Palestinian community based disability rehabilitation network. Professor Giacaman has chronicled the effects of Israeli military occupation on the physical and mental health of Palestinians. Since 2000, she has been focusing on the impact of chronic war-like conditions and exposure to political violence on the health and well-being of Palestinians, with an emphasis on psychosocial health; and the development of measures suitable for assessing health and well-being in conditions of protracted political violence; and ways in which interventions could generate the needed active capacity to endure and resist ongoing exposure to political violence, especially among young people. Professor Giacaman has published extensively on women's health and mental health from a public health perspective, and was awarded an honorary PhD from the LSE in 2011 for having made an "outstanding contribution to the increased understanding or appreciation of ' the causes of things.. '"

Fathy Flefel

Fathy Flefel is the Director of the Palestine Red Crescent Society Psychosocial Resource center. He completed his graduate studies in Expressive Art Therapy at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. He works with populations living under ongoing political conflict in Palestine. In addition, Flefel is an international trainer in psychosocial interventions during and post disasters, as well as an active member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Roster of Psychosocial Experts. His research interests include the relation between juvenile delinquency and family disorganization, substance abuse and addiction, applications of art therapy to the Palestinian culture, the role of traditional Palestinian games in increasing tolerance among children, and the evaluation of psychosocial programming for improving the quality of lives of disaster-inflicted populations.

Yousef AlAjarma, PhD, REAT

Yousef AlAjarma, PhD, REAT is an Associate Professor in the Counseling Department at William James College. Dr. AlAjarma earned his Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. He has been a counselor educator at William James College since 2010, and is currently the Director of the Area of Emphasis in Expressive Arts Therapy within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Dr. AlAjarma is a registered Expressive Arts Therapist. His areas of professional interest include: the application of arts to teaching and to psychotherapy practice, resilience and trauma, family and couples therapy, and conflict transformation. In addition, he worked as an Expressive Arts Therapist and a Mental Health counselor with many trauma survivors in Palestine and has held positions with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Les Médicins du Monde (Doctors of the World), the Palestinian Ministry of Education and many other NGOs. For the last four years Dr. AlAjarma has been providing pro bono mental health counseling services to the Muslim and the Arab community in the Boston Area. Dr. AlAjarma is a member of the American Counseling Association. He is also the Executive co-chair of the Board of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. He regularly presents on clinical topics at multidisciplinary conferences.

Devin G. Atallah, PhD

Devin G. Atallah, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Racial/Cultural Focus, with the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Atallah engages qualitative, community-based participatory approaches to research and decolonial praxis. In his work, Dr. Atallah strives to create conditions for community and uplift healing practices in ways that are grounded on voices and knowledges of racialized and Indigenous groups, and guided by commitments to decoloniality, racial justice, and re-humanization. Dr. Atallah studies resilience and racialization journeys, anchoring emergent understandings and practices in solidarity alongside communities contesting racism and settler colonization, primarily within his long-term partnerships with communities in Boston, USA; Bethlehem, Palestine; and Santiago de Chile.

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Hana Masud, PhD

Hana Masud, PhD, received her degree in Community Psychology from National Louis University Chicago, College of Professional Studies and Advancement (CPSA). Masud earned her Masters degree in Community Psychology from Birzeit University 2015, Palestine, and is currently pursuing certification in Narrative Therapy studies and practices, from the Adelaide Australia center, under the supervision of Palestine international certified experts. Her research focuses on the coloniality of mental health services, and its impact on re-colonizing local resistance, and currently working on completing her dissertation on Embodying Decoloniality indigenizing psychological practice and pedagogy, expected to graduate June, 2019. Masud is the co-chair of Racial Justice in Praxis an initiative of Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Karen L. Suyemoto, PhD

Karen L. Suyemoto, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology and Asian American Studies and the Director of the Transnational Cultural and Community Studies graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Dr. Suyemoto is a Past President of the national Asian American Psychological Association [AAPA] and recently served as their delegate to the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives. In 2013, she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change: Asian American Pacific Islander Women and also received the AAPA’s Distinguished Contributions Award. She recently (summer, 2018) traveled to Palestine as part of the Palestinian American Research Council’s Faculty Development Seminar. She is currently the Chair of the APA Task Force developing the new Guidelines for Race and Ethnicity in Psychology.