After 20 years of war with the US and its allies, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021. Afghanistan’s long history of conflict has affected the mental health of Afghan adolescents.
This study is the first to assess mental health among adolescents in Afghanistan after the change in political leadership. It finds that adolescents in Afghanistan, especially girls, are experiencing significant mental health problems. Nearly 29% of adolescents were at substantial risk of having psychiatric problems, and approximately half of the study participants met criteria for a probable diagnosis of PTSD, depression, or anxiety; rates higher than those observed previously. Female adolescents had higher odds of having a psychiatric disorder, and being of a younger age was associated with poorer mental health.
As Afghanistan’s health system is struggling, and foreign humanitarian aid has diminished substantially, the report concludes that there is a need for mental health interventions that are tailored to the current political and social environment in Afghanistan. Furthermore, clinicians treating recently arrived adolescent refugees from Afghanistan must consider the emotional and behavioural presentations within the context of the political, historical, and social experiences of this population.