Shrinks Take to Streets Over Delay in Reforms

The organizers of the protest claim that as a result of the delay, adult clients of the state mental health services wait an average of two months for their first appointment with a psychologist.

About 100 psychologists and psychology residents demonstrated in Tel Aviv Tuesday against the delay in implementing planned reforms to the state mental health system. The demonstration - held at Magen David Square, at the intersection of King George, Allenby and Nachalat Binyamin streets - was the first by Israeli psychologists in 15 years, and the first ever in the country for the express purpose of bolstering government-funded mental health services.

The organizers of the protest claim that as a result of the delay, adult clients of the state mental health services wait an average of two months for their first appointment with a psychologist. Children and adolescents wait an average of seven months, they say.

In some areas of the country, the wait can be as long as a year, according to protest leaders.

Dana Lubinski, a resident in clinical psychology who is one of the leaders of the protest, said she and her colleagues are protesting the government's failure to guarantee access to high-quality public mental health services for all its citizens.

"The measure of a society is how it treats its weak and ill citizens, who are forced to stay in neglected, run-down buildings in crowded conditions that sometimes only cause a deterioration of their condition and physical disease, on top of their mental illness," she said.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that it is making every effort to advance the reform, which will add significant resources to the mental health system in general and the community network in particular.