Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration on Tuesday announced the inception of a call center offering new immigrants emotional support. The hotline, which will operate in five languages, is part of a collaboration with the Community Stress Prevention Center (CSPC).

The call center will have mental-health professionals at callers’ disposal and will operate five days a week. Its services will be available in English, French, Spanish, Amharic and Russian.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said “since the outbreak of the pandemic we have seen a sharp rise in the number of Israelis suffering from emotional distress, anxiety, loneliness and difficulties in coping with the challenges posed by the [coronavirus] crisis.

“For new immigrants, emotional coping is even more difficult due to the many obstacles they face, including lacking language skills and the need to adapt to a new country and culture. I, therefore, directed the ministry to establish a hotline that will provide aid and emotional assistance to olim [immigrants], in addition to the economic aid and accompaniment in various spheres that the Aliyah and Integration Ministry already offers,” she explained.

The minister noted that when the crisis erupted, the ministry took steps to provide emergency assistance for new immigrants, which included special grants, an employment program that offers career training, digitization grants for businesses, vouchers for Hebrew studies and an extension of eligibility for ulpan studies. Other steps included reforming the process hindering olim from obtaining licenses to practice medicine, improving digital access to the ministry’s services and more.

The decision to open the hotline at this time followed a survey that the ministry commissioned that reviewed existing emotional-support hotlines operated by the government as a public service. The survey found that these hotlines do not meet immigrants’ needs.

To reach the hotline, dial: 972-4-7702648 (Russian), 972-4-7702649 (Spanish), 972-4-7702650 (French), 972-4-7702651 (English), or 972-4-8258081 (Amharic).

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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