Mental Illness In Afghanistan: Invisible Consequences Of War
Interview by Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Abandoned, chained, forgotten… Mental patients in Afghanistan face a severe lack of resources to take care of them, while the political instability and the increase in drug addicts forces them into the shadows. Ignorance and stigma surround mental disorders in Afghanistan. War and drugs have a catastrophic effect on health. Death as a result of war is simply the "tip of the iceberg". More than three decades of conflict have led to widespread human suffering and population displacement in Afghanistan.
The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm also resulting in large scale drug addiction. While mental health treatment of Afghanistan has improved in cities, many rural villages still require the patients to be sent to shrines, where they may be chained, neglected and poorly look after. Shrines offer a draconian approach to mental illness. Mental patients are offered ancient healing rituals to drive out evil spirits. According to the local beliefs, the mental ill are labeled as being possessed by an evil spirit known as jinn.
A mental patient praying religiously in his Spartan cell. His future is dark as the future of his country.
A ray of light bathes a mental patient in thought, at the mental asylum in Herat.