Promising mental health care progression in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has made news recurrently over the last couple of decades due to the severe conflict there. However, one aspect of conflict which is not so often considered is the mental health problems caused by the stress of conflict.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with veterans of the military who have seen traumatic action. It can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and depression, to name a few symptoms.

It logically follows that in countries that have been rife with conflict, incidences of people with PTSD and similar health conditions would be higher.

According to the National Mental Health Strategy 2009-2014, released by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health, 50% of the population of Afghanistan is suffering with some form of mental health problem. Apparently, this compares to approximately 20-30% of people in developed countries.

This doubled figure is credited to the thirty years of violence the country has seen.

Unfortunately, the strong cultural structure and religion in Afghanistan amplify the stigmas that plague mental health problems.

However, a project, the International Psychosocial Organisation (IPSO) and has helped to make mental health care more available.

The project manager of IPSO in Kabul, Dr Fareshta Quedees, has helped the project to train 280 psychosocial counsellors to work across the country. She described the country as being “in a vicious cycle of violence and trauma.”

This is a big step forward for a country where mental health treatment often involves being put in a cell or chained up.

Hopefully with more counsellors in the country, the stigmas of mental health will be able to break down and people can begin to work on curing the mental scars that are so common in the people.

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