Gaza City – Since this summer’s devastating war in the Gaza Strip, the number of patients seeking help from the Gaza Community Centre’s mental health programme has jumped by close to 50 percent.

The centre, which previously handled about 15 patients daily, is now seeing up to 25, administrators say – and the Gaza City centre is just one of three branches of Gaza’s mental health network. The NGO’s psychiatry, social work and physiotherapy services are available for free to residents, but social stigma still prevents an untold number from seeking help.

Psychologist Hasan Zeyada spoke with Al Jazeera about the challenges facing Gazans in the wake of a war that killed 2,200 Palestinians, and amid an ongoing, crippling siege.

Al Jazeera: How has your patient load changed since the summer war?

Hasan Zeyada: We have more cases that are referred to our centres. It’s the immediate reaction after war. A lot of people had psychological and behavioural consequences because of the trauma during the military Israeli aggression. A lot of people, they are in need of consultation, they are in need of intervention. We started to do our intervention immediately through field visits for the families who lost their homes and lost their family members, and for the injured people…

The war was brutal and it was for a long time, and it’s the third experience for the children here in Gaza, so a lot of people have already developed acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are in need of intervention.”

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