The mental health crisis in Afghanistan is reaching alarming proportions, as highlighted in the poignant stories shared by those directly affected. Banning of education, particularly for young girls and adolescents, has had severe impacts on their mental health, which are likely to be long-lasting.
Education plays a vital role in shaping an individual's sense of identity, self-worth, and future prospects. Not only that, economic challenges, poverty, and domestic violence negatively impact people’s mental health.
To address the alarming mental health crisis, the Changemaker initiative is providing free online counseling sessions that are confidential, remote, and deal with mild to moderate cases. Having grown up in Kabul, I founded the Changemaker initiative in 2022 with the aim of pushing the narrative around mental health and finding its links with other sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Our current aim is to provide services to marginalized populations in Afghanistan, while pushing for change globally as well.
Providing this service assists us in gaining insight into the mental health landscape, which in my experience has long been underfunded and lacking needed research. What we’ve come to learn is that there is a high demand for mental health services, given that there are almost no services available.
But on a good note, people’s education regarding mental health is increasing, and there’s less stigma associated with opting for such crucial services. Either way, funding is significantly lacking in this field and there are a whole lot of issues that need to be researched and identified in order to gain a clearer understanding of what's happening and what's needed in different situations and contexts.