Beirut Explosion: Port blast and financial crisis weigh heavily on mental health of Lebanese

Psychiatrists, therapists and NGO workers cite a surge in Lebanese seeking psychological care over the past year as the country's deepening financial crisis combined with the explosion and a global pandemic weigh heavily on the population. Rony Mecattaf, Executive Coach and Psychotherapist, was just a few hundred meters from the port when the explosion went off. "I lost my eyesight because of the explosion. The apartment that I was in was completely blown and torn apart. And so it's particularly emotional for me to be here exactly a year later." His line of work has been incredibly useful in the healing process. "Being a psychotherapist has tremendously helped me in working through the trauma that, until then, I was mostly seeing in clients." And in turn Mr. Mecattaf has become more empathetic towards his clients. "When you have suffered yourself, it is more accessible to be empathetic to people who have suffered something similar. So I'm sure it has created something more humane, less clinical." As Beirut continues to grieve, Mr. Mecattaf laments that "mental health issues in general in Lebanon have been under a certain stigma. It's difficult to talk about it, and so this has added to the difficulty to process it," Mr. Mecattaf explains, "They're still in a state of shock a year later and that can not be very healthy." Yet Mr. Mecattaf remains optimistic over the long haul. "There is an incredible strength and dignity that I find in the Lebanese public, and I was really witnessing that today. And I have the sense that, collectively, we will come through."