Public Health Ministry of Afghanistan while citing a survey informed that one in two Afghans suffer from psychological stress. The survey also revealed that a fifth of the population witness failures in doing routine tasks.
The survey was conducted across 16 provinces of Afghanistan with a sample population of 12666 people which also included children and the elderly.
The survey adds that “nearly 5 percent of people suffer from depression, 3 percent from anxiety and over 5 percent from psychological injury; Around 7 percent have suicidal thoughts.”
Nicholas Taylor, an EU official who supported the survey, attributed the causal factors of mental health status in Afghanistan to “decades of war, poverty, unemployment and violence for mental health problems in Afghanistan.”
This is not the first time that a study revealed the serious nature of Afghans’ mental health. Decades of instability and trauma has caused people to be vulnerable to disturbances which have caused anxiety, PTSD, and stress. Even the troops who have worked and been deployed in the region have had serious mental health traumas.
But the additional problem in Afghanistan are multifold when it comes to mental health. In Asia at large, there is a stigma attached to visiting a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor for help or ask people for support, as a taboo is attached to mental issues. Everything related to the mind is hyphenated under the slot of ‘insanity’ and this social stigma has prevented many people in Afghanistan from asking for help or seeking help of professionals.
Not just that, superstitions also deter people from opening about depression and anxiety. The Dailymail covered a story on stress in Afghanistan in 2016 in which they pointed out that “Families often call in mullahs when they think a loved one has become possessed by a djinn…ancient superstitions prevail, with many across Afghanistan still attributing mental illnesses to being possessed by demons. An afflicted person can be locked up in a cage or left chained at a shrine for days on end.”
War, instability and violence has left many youth, middle-aged and elderly with stress and a sense of morose, alike.
But fortunately, there are many awareness drives being carried out under programs by international organisations to better the status of mental health in Afghanistan.