Teens who go to Poland on educational trips about the Holocaust may be at higher risk for mental disorders, according to a new study in Israel. However, the study also found that this usually took the form of a worsening of a pre-existing conditions and not the development of a new disorder.
In the study, a first of its kind, 50 psychiatrists were asked to recall sessions with youths who had been referred to them after trips to Poland. "The trips emphasize an important part of the Jewish people's history, but also warrant a discussion on the negative consequences, like the acceleration of mental disorders," said Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, the initiator of the study and the head of the Pediatric Neurology and Developmental Unit at the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital in Raanana.
"We concluded that following the trips to Poland there was in increase in incidents of mental disorders. The trip can illicit an emotional and mental response, but for the most part it does not reach the point of post-traumatic stress," Mimouni-Bloch said.
Psychiatrists reported 23 cases of youths seeking evaluations following their trips. Among the diagnoses were anxiety, adjustment disorders, depression, psychosis and one case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr. Yuval Bloch and Sharon Ross also took part in the study. "We recommend that any youth whose mental threshold is uncertain speak with a professional before going on the trip," they said.
The Education Ministry released a statement, saying: "Students who go on the trip go through a long process of preparation that addresses the emotional, moral, academic and education aspects of the trip. Also, the experience of the journey is processed by the educational staff with the students after returning to Israel."