Mental health and how to keep hope: A series of comments from women in Afghanistan


Words by Hannah Oates, Sam Reynolds, Gemma Faris & Isabelle Zhu-Maguire


Content warning: the following pieces contain discussion of violence, classroom bombings, mental health and gender-based oppression


The mental health of Afghan women tends to be overshadowed by complex social, political, and economic landscapes. However, their narratives and stories hold priceless insight into the challenges, stigmatism, and barriers that remain in the face of inclusive mental health support. This series of short stories based on their real experiences delves into the struggles and triumphs of young women living in Afghanistan. As these women challenge traditional gender roles and advocate on behalf of their peers, friends, sisters, daughters, and mothers, their writing has become a platform in which they are able to express their own struggles with depression, anxiety, trauma, and a range of other mental health issues.


Their stories shed light on the misconceptions surrounding mental health in Afghan culture, as well as the external inattention the topic receives. Despite the eloquence of these women and their incredible writing, words can do little to demonstrate the reality of their experiences of violence, discrimination, gender inequality, and overcoming near-insurmountable societal barriers. We are privileged that these women have chosen to trust us with their stories. Their courage and perseverance are not only humbling and awe-inspiring but should serve as a catalyst for our own reflection on the value of prioritising mental health in situations of violence and conflict.


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