Mentally Ill New Immigrants under the Danger of New Gulf War

I. Reznik, P. Sirota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: During the Persian Gulf War adjustment problems and emotional distress among a group of Israeli recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union were found to be high and significantly associated with their pre-war level of distress (Mirsky & Barasch, 1993; Zilber & Lerner, 1996). Objective: The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the reactions and level of psychological distress of mentally ill new immigrants to threat created by the recent Middle East-Iraqi crisis (February 1998). Method & Subjects: During autumn 1997, 138 new immigrant mentally ill in-patients (60% men, 40% women) were assessed by Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and Clinical Global Impression (CGI). For assessment of psychological distress the Talbieh Brief Distress inventory was used. Two-thirds of these patients, who did not change their overall mental status, as measured by BPRS and CGI, were assessed again during the first two weeks of February 1998 (the peak of political-military tension in the Middle East), by the same scales. Results: The level of psychlogical distress was found to be significantly higher, even though their psychiatric status remained stable. Approximately two weeks after temporary dissolution of the crisis, the patients reported similar level of distress as on first evaluation. Changes in TBDI (score1.5 points) were statistically significant (p0.005). Discussion: The data shows increased vulnerability of new immigrants psychiatric in-patients to serious external stress and their relatively preserved internal resiliency and personal coping mechanisms. Our findings support the data of Melamed et al., 1996, that psychiatric patients may have more strength than was generally assumed. Psychological support measures and information provided in native languages could be very helpful in case of an imminent war or any other national emergency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-133
Number of pages2
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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