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Over 70% of respondents said they felt an increase in maturity and an obligation to serve the country in some way.

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

A new study released by Israel’s Education Ministry highlights the growing mental health challenges facing students due to the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

According to the study, 53 percent of Israeli high school students are dealing with mental or emotional distress on a daily basis, and 66 percent of respondents said their academic performance has taken a hit.

“In recent years, the education system has been dealing with prolonged periods of emergency and complex and challenging crisis situations, which have serious consequences for the mental health of Israeli students,” Education Minister Yoav Kisch said of the study.

“These effects require the Ministry of Education to invest additional resources to help the students, to support them and strengthen their personal and mental resilience.”

A striking 66 percent of Israeli students “were exposed to events that caused them fear and anxiety,” including some of the graphic images from Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, the study found.

The study also said the long-term consequences of such imagery could be devastating, making one five times more likely to become an excessive drinker when they reach adulthood and six times more likely to engage in bullying behavior.

“Those who were directly or indirectly exposed to the horrors of war are at immediate risk,” Prof. Yossi Harel Fisch of Bar-Ilan University, who authored the study, said in a statement accompanying his analysis.

“Our role as a society is to provide them with direct assistance so that the trauma does not become permanent. Parents have an acute role in directing the children’s viewing patterns of difficult content, and in dealing with the impact of such observation on their mental and functional state.”

On the bright side, the study also found that 76 percent of students “feel they have matured” and 73 percent are “more interested in contributing to the country and serving in the army” than before the war.

The study was the first of its kind aimed at analyzing the impact of the war on Israeli children, many of whom have had their fathers and mothers serving extended periods of time in reserve duty.

A separate recent study found that hundreds of thousands of Israelis are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the ongoing war with Hamas.

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