Mental illnesses a common problem among Afghans as legacy of war

"I remember all my past. I cannot forget," said Mohammad Hussain, a former army interpreter.

1 min read
A patient suffering from a mental illness draws a picture during rehabilitation activities at Sehat-e-Rawani Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 5, 2023. (Photo by Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua)

by Abdul Haleem

Wearing a hospital gown, Mohammad Hussain, an Afghan patient who suffers from war-related mental illnesses, whispered that the outcome of his joining the war has been nothing more than sorrow and depression.

“Every moment when I went to the (battle) tank, every moment I went to the mission, I felt scared, and felt as if we were going to die,” Hussain told Xinhua.

Joining the U.S. forces in Afghanistan as an interpreter in 2010 and quitting in 2012, Hussain said in his hospital bed that he got sick and could not continue his duty.

Now, Hussain is being treated in the Sehat-e-Rawani Hospital based in the Afghan capital Kabul.

“I told them (U.S. troops) I could not work anymore. They said, ‘No, you don’t have any problem. You just get depression,'” the former army interpreter said.

Hussain received a six-month medical treatment from the U.S. troops, but fell ill again when he remembered his past and what he saw during the missions with the U.S. troops.

“I remember all my past. I cannot forget,” he said, adding that he witnessed Afghan civilians being killed during battles.

Recalling his bitter memories, Hussain said he saw a U.S. jet fighter dropped a bomb and killed the son of a barber. “So I suffered a lot from that incident. Why the civilians were dead?”

Mohammad Shafi Azim, chief of the psychiatric department of the Sehat-e-Rawani Hospital, said the prolonged war had brought Afghans a variety of problems including mental diseases.

“A prolonged war, security problems, the unpleasant sound of ammunition, rocket attacks and a small or big fight can cause mental problems for a child or a teenager or an adult who lives in a community located in a war zone,” Azim told Xinhua.

Azim, who had also worked as a doctor during the foreign forces’ presence in Afghanistan, added that many patients who visited the hospital often talked about the sorrow of losing their loved ones during the war.

“Even though the war has ended, the consequences, such as economic difficulties, unemployment and many other problems, remain in the society and continue to haunt the victims,” said Khawaja Qudratullah Sediqi, a neurologist working at the hospital.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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