The scars of war are written large on the minds and lives of Iraqi men and women-memories of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of bombings, losing loved ones and not knowing what next morning will bring in its wake. The mental health crisis in Iraq has deepened with the rising geopolitical tensions too.
International agencies suggest, 35% of the 9000 households surveyed agreed to being severely psychologically distressed. Official data suggested, 70% of the population undergoing mental health disorder had suicidal thoughts. Diminishing help from international organisations with respect to mental health care has been yet another problem that the country has been grappling with.
Last month, Ministry of Youth And Sports of Iraq signed an MOU with Bengaluru-based spiritual and humanitarian organisation The Art of Living's sister concern International Association For Human Values or IAHV founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Under the project that looks to work closely with youth affected by conflict in the region and those undergoing severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, anxiety, depression and distress in Baghdad and nearby areas, the organisation would train Iraqi youth in self empowerment programs, stress relief and rehabilitation.
"The contract was signed with the Ministry of Sport and Youth to give training for youths who went through conflict in Al-Sadder city, 9 Nisan and Baladiyat town in Iraq," said Mawahib Shaibani, country director, IAHV Iraq.
"We completed the training for 100 youths and now we will be training another 900 youths. The rehabilitation and stress relief training will empower the youth to release the severe long seated stress, anger, and anxiety, improve their present moment awareness and spiritual wisdom that allows them to take a fresh and stress free look at their future with more hope and positivity and a broader vision. They will be trained in science backed meditation and breathing techniques, known to reduce symptoms of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD. And then we help them with Social and business projects with support from the World Bank," said Girin Govind, senior Art of Living instructor who has been conducting the workshops in Iraq.