About Embrace

What and Why

About Embrace

Embrace is a non-profit organization (NGO) which works to raise awareness around mental health in Lebanon. Embrace launched as an affiliation with the Department of Psychiatry at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) back in 2013. As of August 2017, Embrace became an official registered NGO in Lebanon. It is a one of a kind charitable and fundraising initiative for mental illnesses. Embrace seeks to inform and support people who need help by dispelling the myths and misinformation that surround mental illness. Embrace provides information about the resources available to people who live in Lebanon. Embrace also raises money to help provide needed treatment and care for people who cannot afford it. In September 2017, Embrace launched the first national suicide prevention helpline in Lebanon.

One in 4 Lebanese will suffer from a mental illness sometime during his or her lifetime. If left untreated mental illness can result in serious disabilities and even death. However, due to the stigma and social taboos surrounding the subject of mental health many people who need treatment will not seek it. Negative attitudes, negative opinions, and misinformation keep people from seeking the help they need to live healthy and productive lives. Embrace is working to provide information, community awareness, and support to break down the stigma of mental illness in Lebanon.

The cost of proper treatment for psychiatric or psychological care can be expensive and overwhelming. In its first 3 years of operation, Embrace raised funds amounting to $32,000 and covering the treatment of 32 individuals, who were in need of inpatient psychiatric care, but could not afford it.

Stigma and the financial cost of treating mental illness should never be a barrier to seeking help. Embrace grew out of the need to fight these challenges in order to raise awareness about mental illness and facilitate access to treatment.

Vision

Embrace aspires to be the leading mental health organization in Lebanon and the region through mental health awareness and advocacy.

Mission

To ensure people with mental illness are respected, empowered, and able to access appropriate care without the constraints of lack of knowledge, shame or limited resources through positive representation, supportive community programs, alliances with policymakers and financial assistance.

Core Values

  • Respect: To consider all individuals worthy of high regard
  • Integrity: To adhere to the highest moral and ethical principles in fulfilling Embrace’s mission
  • Compassion: To understand another person’s condition from their perspective and strive to respond to their needs
  • Inclusiveness: To actively include key stakeholders in decision making and the implementation of Embrace’s strategic goals
  • Accountability: To acknowledge and assume responsibility for all actions and decisions undertaken within the organization
  • Collaboration: To actively seek partners and engage them in fulfilling Embrace’s mission and vision

Strategic Goals

  • To reduce the suffering of patients and their families and prevent the disabling consequences resulting from untreated mental illnesses
  • To increase public awareness of mental health issues
  • To advocate for the support of mental health at all levels of policymaking
  • To ensure that individuals suffering from mental illnesses in Lebanon have access to psychiatric and psychological care

Target Audience and Services

About the Embrace LifeLine

The Embrace LifeLine is the first National Emotional Support and Suicide Prevention Helpline in Lebanon.

This specialized telephone service includes a network of highly trained operators who provide over the phone emotional support, suicide risk assessment and referrals to community mental health services.

Hours of Operation
Daily, from 12pm (noon) to 2am (With your support, we can soon operate 24 hours a day. Learn how you can contribute here: Get Involved)

Trained Operators and Team

There are currently 44 trained volunteer emotional crisis and suicide prevention helpline operators who come from various backgrounds, ready to take calls. All the volunteers have gone through intensive workshops, trained in active listening skills, suicide risk assessment and crisis intervention.

Why a LifeLine?

In response to the growing concern of suicide in Lebanon, coupled with the increasing evidence that supports the establishment of a emotional crisis and suicide prevention helpline as an effective preventative measure for suicide, Embrace set out to develop the Embrace Lifeline. Suicide helplines have been found to significantly reduce suicide rates by 36% to 57%1.

Implementing an evidence-based framework for prevention and moni­toring of suicide, is one of the strategic objectives of the ‘Mental Health and Substance Use-Prevention, Promotion and Treatment-Strategy for Lebanon 2015-2020’, launched by the Ministry of Public Health with the aim of building a sustainable system for mental health in Lebanon. Establishing an emotional crisis and suicide prevention helpline is one of the key components of such a framework and is therefore a substantial step towards achieving this objective of the national strategy, thereby contributing to the building of the national system for mental health.”2

MISSION of the embrace lifeline

  • To increase awareness about suicide in Lebanon.
  • To ensure the respect and empowerment of individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts, and to provide them with access to appropriate care, while also creating a referral network of community resources for intervention and treatment.
  • To support those bereaved from suicide.

The shocking facts

Over 800,000 people die of suicide every year; that’s one death every 40 seconds. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that for every one death by suicide, there may be more than 20 others who have been attempting suicide.

In Lebanon, on average, every 3 days one person dies of suicide and on average, every six hours, one person attempts suicide.

While these figures may not seem high, they are not representative of the actual suicide rates as prevailing religious, legal, and social issues that surround suicide often result in the mislabeled cause of death as natural, accidental, or undetermined. Furthermore, these numbers do not take into account the number of individuals who experience suicidal ideation. Hence, the rate of suicide in Lebanon is expected to be underreported.

The thoughts can start early on…

Studies conducted in Lebanon have shown that 16% of students aged 12 to 14 had seriously considered committing suicide in the year prior to the study making it the highest percentage compared to other Arab countries; while 13.5% of the students reported having actually attempted suicide in the previous year.3

Suicide is preventable.

With the availability and access to appropriate services, the rate of suicide, and suicidal attempts can be reduced.

1 De Leo, D., Buono, M. D., & Dwyer, J. (2002). Suicide among the elderly: the long-term impact of a telephone support and assessment intervention in northern Italy. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 181(3), 226-229. Gould, M. S., Kalafat, J., HarrisMunfakh, J. L., & Kleinman, M. (2007). An evaluation of crisis hotline outcomes part 2: suicidal callers. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 37(3), 338-352. Pil, L., Pauwels, K., Muijzers, E., Portzky, G., & Annemans, L. (2013). Cost-effectiveness of a helpline for suicide prevention. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 19(5), 273-281.

2 Reference to MPH strategy: Ministry of Public Health. 2015. Mental Health and Substance Use – Prevention, Promotion, and Treatment- Situation Analysis and Strategy for Lebanon 2015-2020. Beirut: Lebanon.

3 *Mahfoud, Z. R., Afifi, R. A., Haddad, P. H., & DeJong, J. (2011). Prevalence and determinants of suicide ideation among Lebanese adolescents: Results of the GSHS Lebanon 2005. Journal of Adolescence, 34(2), 379-384.

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