Since 2013, the Lebanese non-profit organization Embrace has been working in the field of mental health. It raises awareness on mental health care and suicide prevention across the country, and offers support to people in situations crises. Such social services are badly needed in Lebanon, as the suicide rate has increased more and more over the last years.

This deplorable trend is driven by the difficult situation in which the nation finds itself. The political and economic system is on the brink of collapse caused by years of mismanagement and corruption. The public debt has gone through the roof, and thousands of workers have lost their jobs. The Lebanese currency has lost much of its value, resulting in higher food prices and rising poverty. Covid-19 has worsened this situation even more, and to many people in Lebanon the catastrophe in the port of Beirut appeared to be a symbol of a collapsing state. Moreover, the explosion itself has left many people traumatized.

Living through these multiple and omnipresent crises takes a toll in people’s lives. More and more people in Lebanon need emotional support. However, especially the most vulnerable and poor communities often lack access to mental health care services. Embrace strives to fill this gap, and has established the National Lifeline (1564), the first national emotional support and suicide prevention hotline, in collaboration with the National Mental Health Program under the Ministry of Public Health. The organization also increases awareness on mental health issues through national campaigns and workshops for example in schools, universities and municipalities. Embrace trains volunteers in communities and thereby increases the capacities within the Lebanese civil society to provide support for people in need of emotional support.

After the explosion on August 4th 2020, Embrace expanded its running services and launched new programs in order to help people affected by the catastrophe. Amongst other measures the organization trained new volunteers and boosted its technical equipment for the National Lifeline, enabling the service to run for 21 hours daily. Additionally, in October 2020, Embrace launched the Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) which offers psychological and psychiatric consultations, including trauma and grief counselling. Here people who were affected by the Beirut blast or who lost loved ones can get the support they need.

With the donations collected after the explosion, forumZFD supported Embrace in its efforts to provide a comprehensive mental health care for the people in Lebanon. In particular, forumZFD contributed to financing the clinic’s services. The donations went into management operations and patients fund that covers costs for consultation sessions, and thus free of charge for the patients. Approximately 200 sessions were funded by these donations.