08 July 2024

Hugs, happiness and healing

3-year-old Kubra pedals around happily on a bicycle, circling the child-friendly space she attends each day. Kubra and her father just crossed the border, returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan. Kubra’s father, Gulbuddin, was worried about Kubra’s mental health after the difficult journey. “It was a long and tiring trip,” he recounts. “My children…, Mental health challenges among Afghan children, Children in Afghanistan face severe mental health concerns. More than 24 per cent of children between ages 5 and 17 experience anxiety – a rate 10 times higher than the global average. Nearly 15 per cent experience depression. The legacy of conflict, family migration and displacement, recurrent natural disasters, high levels of poverty, and risks…, How UNICEF provides mental health support, 8-year-old Kawsar smiles and raises her hand, eager to participate in the group learning activity. She attends a child-friendly space with 25 other children. Established by UNICEF, the space is now run by the community, supporting children from impoverished families in her village. “I want to be an artist when I’m older,” she says. “There are so…, Training counsellors and mental health providers, Seven-year-old Naghma lost her father in Afghanistan’s major earthquake in 2022. Since then, she has found comfort in her village’s new child-friendly space, speaking every day with her social worker who facilitates the child-friendly space. "I have learned so many things here. I come every day with my brother, and we are happy." Unfortunately,…, Emotional resilience and psychosocial well-being, By establishing more child-friendly spaces, training more mental healthcare providers, and expanding discussions on mental health into schools and healthcare facilities, UNICEF aims to reach 3.6 million more children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support in 2024. Rubaba, facilitator of a child-friendly space in central…
28 November 2023

A silent crisis in Afghanistan

Today is Zahra’s* fourth counselling session. It’s still a long road to recovery, but the 16-year-old has made remarkable progress from the depressed and anxious girl she was a few months ago. News of the March 2022 ban on girls’ secondary education hit Zahra hard. She was sad, isolated, and barely spoke to anyone at home. She could no longer see…, A mental health sanctuary for children, Dr. Hamedi is the only female child psychiatrist in Afghanistan. She says there are many children in a similar situation as Zahra. “The most common causes of depression among adolescent girls who come to the centre are related to restrictions on education, forced marriage, domestic violence, and poverty. For adolescent boys, it is often linked to…, Deferred dreams, Zahra wants to be a doctor, but she doesn’t know if she will ever go back to school. For now, the counselling sessions help her overcome her depression, while her mother and uncle keep her occupied at home with some reading and writing assignments. Every morning, Zahra watches her younger sister go to school, wishing she could join her. But Zahra…, More child psychiatrists, more training required, This centre is the only one of its kind in all of Afghanistan. No other centre offers specialized mental health and psychosocial support for children and young people. UNICEF continues to support this centre with funding through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the European Union. For Zahra, the centre is a lifeline. But for…