Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Damascus
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Syria: A nation experiencing collective trauma

In mainstream psychiatry, it is assumed that mental health issues are attributed to brain dysfunction (e.g., chemical imbalance). The dominant treatment for a biological problem is medication (individual intervention). This means the responsibility is placed on the individual for improving his/her mental health condition.

This singular explanation for the causation of mental illness and subsequent medication treatment should not preclude other factors such as psychological and social ones that a person goes through. The approach to mental illness must include several other important factors in addition to biological ones.

Syrians have been undergoing a number of hardships that are unprecedented in their known history. They are a nation in crisis. 

we don’t deny the everyday resilience and agencies of Syrians, but agencies and resilience can be impeded by experiencing ongoing stressful situations

Razan Al Munjid

In Syria, the crisis has been ongoing for more than a decade during which Syrians have been subjected to bombing, imprisonment, torture, displacement, poverty, and lack of basic human needs such as water, food, medicine, electricity, and heat, in addition to insecurity and poor living conditions in the camps of neighboring countries. All of these are strong reasons that could contribute to the development of mental health issues. In addition, we don’t deny the everyday resilience and agencies of Syrians, but agencies and resilience can be impeded by experiencing ongoing stressful situations.

The interactions here must go beyond individual psychological treatments (drugs and therapy), which traditionally have not been accepted well by most Syrians as psychiatric treatment is generally looked at as a source of shame due to the labeling of psychiatric patients as crazy people.

Improving the mental well-being of traumatized Syrians would involve improving their economic, social, and political living situation

Razan Al Munjid

For this, the treatment of mental illness must focus on studying the social, economic, and political conditions to which the individual has been exposed since his/her early days. Improving the mental well-being of traumatized Syrians would involve improving their economic, social, and political living situation, a task that falls on the shoulders of governments interested in making their citizens feel safe and stable.

In the Syrian context, this goal is far from being a reality due to the presence of a ruler and his junta who care only about their own interests and shy away from seeking those things that benefit the public as a whole.

It is necessary for legislators and organizations that advocate for human rights to intervene to monitor the humanitarian situation in countries that violate these rights and impose sanctions on violators. This will eventually contribute to the reduction of social and economic influences that factor into the emergence of mental illness.

Razan AL Munjid
Razan AL Munjid
Master of Public Health; Doctoral student; Lives in Germany

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