Campus psychological support units struggle to meet needs

Students and mental health experts say 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, writes Amr EL-Tohamy for Al-Fanar Media.

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.

“Internal conflict and instability-related traumas have caused a range of mental health disorders,” said Mohammed, who is the former chair of the psychology department at Mustansiriyah University’s College of Arts, in Baghdad. In particular, he said, counsellors are seeing “symptoms of phobias, depression and anxiety among students and university teachers alike, besides substance addiction of many young people driven by the lack of job opportunities”.
Full report on Al-Fanar Media site