MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Health professionals in northern Balkh province say that mental illnesses have increased in the province following a surge in Covid-19 cases and violence.
The doctors asked people to follow health guidelines but not surrender to fears about the virus.
On the other hand, Balkh people say that the ongoing conflict in the country should be immediately stopped so it would help health organizations better deal with the virus.
Dr.Asadullah Ulfat, in charge of the mental health treatment in the provincial public health department, talking to Pajhwok Afghan News said that increase in Covid-19 cases during the third wave of the virus was also a reason behind the increased mental disorders in people of the province.
He said that health professionals were currently heavily dealing with Covid-19 patients and that was the reason most people suffering from mental disorders avoid going to hospitals.
Ulfat said that the number of people suffering from mental health problems and referring to hospitals in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, recently increased. However, he did not provide exact figures.
“We have 40 special beds for people suffering from mental problems in Mazar-i-Sharif Civil Hospital, sometimes all the beds get occupied…,” he said, adding that high cases of Covid-19 had created fears among people and that was also a cause of mental problems.
People should follow health guidelines for prevention of Covid-19 but they should not give up to fears from the virus, he added.
“Covid-19 is a global disaster and unfortunately its third wave has affected many people in Afghanistan and that is the reason some families lose their loved ones, it also affected business of some people besides other negative effects, so these cause mental disorders,” he added.
Dr.Shafiqullah Shayeq, chief physician at Mazar-i-Sharif Civil Hospital, said that besides Covid-19, the ongoing violence in the country was also a cause of mental disorders among people.
“People who lose their loved ones in war mourn for days. The ongoing war takes lives of people on a daily basis, it damages economy and destroys happiness of families, I think these factors play a great role in the mental health of people,” he said.
Hashmatullah, a resident of Balkh province whose father is under treatment in Covid-19 Treatment Center in Mazar-i-Sharif said that his entire family was suffering from mental pressure since his father was in hospital.
He said that he was staying with his father in the hospital as his attendant and he too suffered from mental issues.
“My father’s illness from one side and deaths of patients on beds from on the side have seriously affected me, I cannot sleep and have lost appetite and I feel life has become very disappointing for me,” he said.
Hashmatullah said that many families like his also had Covid-19 patients and they were under mental pressure.
The Ministry of Public Health should implement some effective programs for control of people’s mental issues, he said.
Mahdi, a resident of Shulgara district of Balkh, said that they were suffering from mental issues following recent conflicts between Afghan forces and the Taliban in the district.
He said that routine clashes in their area had taken away all happiness from his life.
“We have lost our way due to routine conflicts and bombardments, our children get hide in corners of rooms and put fingers on their ears when there are horrific sounds of war, it is a dangerous situation and we are mentally affected,” he said.
Mahdi said that lack of jobs and poverty in unstable areas were other factors that affected people.
Dr.Ghulam Rassoul Malakzai, a social activist in Mazar-i-Sharif city, said that there were many problems in society but limited services from the government also led to mental problems among people.
He said that the government should implement programs that could bring positive changes and reduce current problems.
Malakzai said that the ongoing conflict affected Covid-19 response activities and there was need for immediate ceasefire for putting an end to the current crisis.