In 2006, terrorists entered the northern border town of Rajar, sending over 100 schoolchildren to spend over 12 long hours in bomb shelters – without food, water or their parents.The students in Tel-Hai College's Stress and Trauma course came to their aid, planning a day filled with activities designed to reduce stress and trauma symptoms, and drawing attention to the immediate need for an extensive program that would train first responders in mental health emergency situations.
Graduates in key positions
The main goal of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Studies Program is to train first responders, giving them the best professional skills for emergency mental health intervention. The number of applicants to the program has tripled over the years, yet only 25 students who show added value in term of resilience, leadership and social abilities are accepted. The students' training is based on original and innovative models that were developed at Tel-Hai College, and that focus on reducing and eliminating trauma symptoms as soon as possible, sometimes within seconds or minutes of the traumatic event itself.
Graduates of the program have become an integral part of the national trauma relief and support network – in the IDF, search and rescue units, police, hospital emergency rooms and numerous other institutions across the country that employ program graduates and work with the students and faculty in real-life events.
Recent data show that over 50% of the new mental health officers in the IDF are graduates of the program. Over a third of the program's graduates continue on to higher academic degrees, others volunteer with humanitarian efforts around the world and all graduates find work in either public or private organizations in the field.
Reaching out to the Philippines
The typhoon that hit the Philippines in November 2013 left behind ruin, loss and widespread devastation. Four weeks after the powerful winds stormed the islands, a small but determined delegation from the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program at Tel-Hai College joined the overall relief efforts of the humanitarian organizations Brit Olam and Natan.
The delegation's mission was to perform focused interventions for the prevention of post-trauma symptoms. We also came to train local professionals and leadership to build community resilience, as well as training over 1,200 teachers and working with over 2,500 children, reported Dr. Moshe Farchi, founder and director of the Resilience Program at Tel-Hai College.
Tal, one of the two students who joined Dr. Farchi, adds: We were in a small town called Guiuan, a tiny spot at the tip of an island called Samar, one of 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines. I could never have imagined wind could be as powerful as to tear apart an entire world. I dont think I have heard one bird chirp since I got here. It is moving to see the people return to their daily lives, slowly but surely. It isnt easy and their progress is inevitably slow, but it can be felt. And it is incredible to be a part of this strong and smiling nation's process of rebuilding itself, one day at a time.
A hub of academia, research and community programs, Tel-Hai College is a critical engine for the development of the Galilee and the State of Israel. Growing rapidly since its establishment in 1996, Tel-Hai is today a leading academic institution that significantly increases accessibility to higher education to students of the periphery, in the periphery.
Located in one of Israels most strategic regions and most beautiful landscapes, Tel-Hai College attracts students and faculty from across the country to undergraduate and graduate level academic studies in sciences, humanities and social sciences.
The Stress, Trauma and Resilience Studies Program is a beacon of academic innovation and also an inspiring example of how academia can serve social needs and community growth – in the Galilee, in Israel and around the world.
For more information about Tel-Hai College and its Department of Social Work, go to: www.telhai.ac.il