As Afghan Schools Remain Closed for Girls, Mental Health Crisis Builds
Psychiatrist Shafi Azim spent much of his career attending to the trauma caused by two decades of fighting, which ripped apart buildings and families.
But over the past months, his hospital — Afghanistan’s primary mental health facility in Kabul — has filled with patients who say they are experiencing a different kind of suffering, he said. With the Taliban leadership severely restricting female education and work, there are mounting concerns about the mental health of girls and women. The restrictions and “sudden changes,” said Azim, appear to be at the root of the trauma suffered by most women and girls now seeking help at this hospital.
“They fear they will never be able to go back to work or school,” said Azim, 60. “They are isolated and become depressed.”
Mental health professionals at five Afghan hospitals and health centers shared similar accounts of a rising challenge. They said many women are receiving outpatient therapy and medication. Some have been encouraged by doctors to seek an escape in the shrinking number of activities that are still tolerated.