Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Writer: Aglaë Iff
Editor: Alexa Theodoropoulos
Afghanistan has been devastated by violence. It is estimated that half the population experiences depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the country, less than 1% of doctors are trained for mental health, and there is only one mental health hospital in the capital city. Although about 750 psychosocial counselors have been trained by the government over the last 15 years (to provide basic mental health counseling and facilitate referrals), these services are used by less than 10% of the population. This lack of awareness and resources means that people with psychiatric issues are unable to receive the assistance they require.
In terms of mental health issues, another area of inequity is Thailand. In 2012, 20% of the population struggled with mental illness, the most common ones including psychosis, anxiety disorder and depression, issues that are further escalated by the large wage gap and widespread poverty that menaces the region. Without financial support, hospitals struggle with too many patients.
This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) is developing facilities in rural areas, and increasing the resources by funding courses and psychiatry residency training abroad. Unfortunately, international donors invest mainly in physical health, leaving mental health of overlooked. Likewise, over the past 20 years, the Ministry of Public Health has focused on developing technologies to improve mental health programs, community services, prison services and psychiatric rehabilitation. Overall, however, it is vital that hospitals receive more funding to increase staff and patient capacity. Global welfare and mental health are not independent issues, but rather, they corroborate our responsibility as a society to push for change in all areas of injustice.