More than 30 percent of people living in the provinces of Lorestan, Ilam, Isfahan, Tehran, and Kurdestan are suffering from severe mental illness, according to Bashir Khaleghi, a member of the Majlis’ (Iranian Parliament) Health Committee.
“Doctors have identified 200 types of mental illnesses in Iran, including but not limited to anxiety depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia, any of which, if left untreated, could lead to suicide,” Mr. Khaleghi explained. “A large segment of the country’s population lives under constant psychological pressure, according to research conducted by mental health specialists between 1999 and 2015.”
Khaleghi noted: “Many families are reluctant to seek medical help for loved ones who have psychological breakdowns. They are concerned about the stigma attached to mental health issues. However, the number of those afflicted with the disease only rises if people refuse to seek treatment. Some family doctors refer patients with mental health disorders to neurologists instead of psychiatrists or psychologists to avoid making them anxious and uncomfortable.”
“While some of these illnesses are hereditary, others are caused by economic hardships, unemployment, a high cost of living and divorce. Also, university exams and graduate studies place students and their families under a great deal of stress,” Khaleghi said. “After road accidents, heart disease, and terminal illnesses, mental health disorders pose the greatest threat to the population. We predict that at the current rate mental disorders will soon become a major medical problem in the country. Also, the long-term economic burden to the government of treating people with mental disorders is expected to rise in the coming years.”
Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi