Mental health disorders among Syrians … a present epidemic and absent solutions


Mansour Al-Omari

Every year on October 10, the World Health Organization celebrates “World Mental Health Day”. The aim of the awareness campaign for the current year is to increase investment in mental health under the slogan: “Take action for mental health … Let’s invest in it.” Human Rights Watch, together with mental health advocates, human rights organizations and anti-torture organizations around the world, launched a global campaign called #BreakTheChains to end the shackling of people suffering from mental health conditions.

It is also an opportunity for the Syrian media and civil society to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, and the need to address its widespread disorders among Syrians in their homeland and countries of asylum.

Indicate Scientific estimates That about 10% of the world’s population suffers from some form of mental disorder. Mental health disorders vary according to their severity and causes, and range from depression to severe mental illness, and may reach advanced stages that some call “madness”, which is an offensive term that must be terminated. Mental health disorders have serious consequences that interfere with our daily life and our relationships with family members, work colleagues, society in general and the state, and distort the mechanism of our individual decision-making that may be fateful, and other negative effects.

Appreciated A study published by the World Health Organization and the medical journal “The Lancet” The 2019 Year of Mental Health in Conflict Affected Areas shows that one in five people who live in conflict affected areas suffers from some form of mental disorder, including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. There are no accurate statistics for Syrians who have suffered from mental disorders since 2011, but the percentage is greater than its global counterpart, given what millions of Syrians have suffered and endure from the chronic totalitarian state terror for decades, the devastating conditions of war, rights violations, and their collective atrocities, including torture, in addition to The bloody phase of “ISIS” and its aftermath. Syria lacks adequate mental health services and its culture has been around for decades. With the escalation of the importance of these services today, it has become necessary to provide them in a specialized and widespread manner, in addition to spreading community awareness of the seriousness of mental disorders and the need to treat them.

One of the biggest obstacles to receiving mental health care is the general condition among Syrians, which is indifference to the importance of mental health, and its consideration by some as a social stigma, and several other obstacles also emerge. For Syrians who have arrived in Europe and some other countries of asylum, there are mental health centers available, but Syrians in these countries face some obstacles, such as the lack of sufficient specialists, or the remoteness of mental health centers from their whereabouts. In the neighboring countries of Syria, there are many obstacles facing Syrians who suffer from mental health conditions and want to be treated, for several reasons, including the low level of mental health services in these countries, the lack of specialists, the discriminatory treatment of Syrians, and the economic situation of families.

Syrians living in their homeland suffer more than refugees, due to the continuing conditions of war, economic conditions, pressures and coercive priorities arising from them, widespread grievances, and the failure of the health system as a whole, including psychological ones, as there was only a mental health service provider. One for every ten thousand people In 2019.

Awareness of the importance of mental health and its protection should be a priority for individuals and society, as mental health plays a fundamental role in our individual and collective capacities to think, express and interact with each other, and it affects our performance at work and our enjoyment of life. Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorders, it is also closely related to physical health. The World Health Organization defines mental health As “a state of well-being through which the individual realizes his own capabilities, can deal with the pressures of normal life, work productively, and be able to contribute to his society.”

Mental health and the need to maintain it must be given wide attention, as it is not only related to individuals with mental health conditions, but its impact includes society as a whole. Those who suffer from these disorders are not an isolated segment of society, but rather are our family members, friends, and workplace employees, who contribute to all aspects of life. We are all vulnerable to mental health disorders, but there are groups in society that are more vulnerable, including the poor, victims of violence, refugees, children and women.


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