Mental Disorders: A Silent Killer in Yemen

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-01-09 11:29 AM UTC



The conflict in Yemen created an army of people suffering from mental issues across the country. Roughly 7 million people, about a quarter of Yemen's population, endure psychological trauma and stress, the World Health Organization said in a report on Monday.


While seven million people need mental health support, only 120,000 have consistent access to services, according to the report.


Since the breakout of the war in 2015, Yemen has been in a state of constant instability and economic troubles, damaging the psychological stability and well-being of millions of civilians.


The health sector in Yemen has deteriorated as many hospitals and clinics have been shut down, destroyed, or damaged during wartime. Families could not have access to medical healthcare given the harsh economic conditions they have experienced.

The WHO said, "Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services are lacking in many parts of [Yemen], owing to shortages of trained professionals and treatment facilities. Even where such services are available, people may feel unable to access them owing to social disapproval."

In October of 2023, The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) said that a quarter of Yemen's population, estimated at more than 30 million, is in need of mental health support and care as a result of the traumas of the conflict and its repercussions that have continued for nine years.

UNPF estimated that one out of every four people in Yemen suffers from mental health disorders and needs support and care services.

Yemen only has 75 psychology doctors/ counselors, according to officials of the National Mental Health Program in Sana'a.

Health officials say the scarcity of psychiatrists in Yemen is attributed to different reasons, including "societal stigma, the societal culture".

In Yemen, most patients who suffer from mental disorders feel embarrassed or worried about the reaction of society, and they try to avoid seeking mental health support.

Health experts say there is a need to combat this phenomenon by raising awareness about the importance of accessing mental health support on time.

The WHO calls for adopting more procedures and initiatives to fight the spread of mental disorders in Yemen and mitigate the feeling of stigma associated with these issues.

 It said, "Yemen's mental health crisis is a silent battle and demands urgent attention. By prioritizing mental health care, combating stigma through greater awareness, and building a robust support system, Yemen can help those struggling in the shadows to embrace life once more."