Iraqi universities’ psychological support units are struggling with a lack of trained specialists and inadequate facilities at a time when their services are needed most, students and mental-health experts say.
Ali Odeh Mohammad, director of the Psychological Research Centre at Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, says mental-health support is critical to help students and other Iraqis cope with the repercussions of decades of conflict and violence.
The trauma of war and the country’s difficult economic conditions today, along with the disrupting effects of the coronavirus pandemic, may be factors contributing to a recent surge in suicides, specialists say. In 2021, Iraq’s Ministry of Interior reported 772 suicide cases, about a hundred more than in 2020.
In a phone call, Mohammed talked to Al-Fanar Media about the great demand for psychological support in Iraq today.
With a staff of 25 researchers specialised in counseling and mental health, the centre undertakes field and applied research on Iraqi society’s problems. It also supervises the mental health and family counseling units at Iraqi universities and academically trains those in charge of them.