Half of Afghanistan population struggling with depression & anxiety

By: Lailuma Noori

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This fact file highlights the important aspects of mental health and disorders. The images include pictures drawn by children who participated in the WHO Global School Contest of Mental Health in 2001.
The theme selected for this year’s Day is suicide prevention. All efforts is to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it. Every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide. A prior suicide attempt is considered as an important risk factor for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds around the world, affecting people of all age groups in all countries.
Based on reports released by World Health Organization (WHO), Close to 800 000 people die by suicide every year; that’s one person every 40 seconds. Suicide occurs throughout life. It is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally. Suicide occurs in all regions of the world. In fact, 79% of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries. 
While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis. Further risk factors include experience of loss, loneliness, discrimination, a relationship break-up, financial problems, chronic pain and illness, violence, abuse, and conflict or other humanitarian emergencies. The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.
In Afghanistan, deputy minister of plan and policy for public health has stressed that for the first time, the ministry in close cooperation of EU in Afghanistan has conducted an assessment on mental health in 16 provinces of the country.
According to Afghan health officials, more than half the Afghan population, including many survivors of conflict-related violence, struggle with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, but fewer than 10 percent receive adequate psychosocial support from the state, according to government documents. The Afghan government and international donors should expand mental health services and outreach campaigns.
Health officials said that the ministry of public health has trained nearly 750 mental health advisors to cut down mental health problems in the country, adding that currently there is one mental health advisor in each health center.
Meanwhile, EU has helped the MoPH in training of mental health advisor since 2003 and its cooperation with the ministry will continue in future. It is worth mentioning that the ministry is determined to increase the number of mental health advisors to 1,000 in coming three years.

 

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