Quarter of Iranian Families Struggle with Mental Illness, Health Official Says

More Iranians suffer from psychological disorders than physical illnesses, the Etemad online newspaper reported on May 4, citing Majid Sadeghi, deputy director of the Iranian Psychological Association. 

“One out of four families struggles with mental illness, and two-thirds of these cases involve anxiety disorder and depression,” Mr. Sadeghi said. “Heart disease is still the main cause of death in Iran, followed closely by car accidents and mental illness.”

Seyyed Hassan Mousavi Chelak, president of the Iran Association of Social Workers, received much criticism in September 2018 when he said that after Iraq, Iran was the most depressed country in the world. 

A report released in March by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network showed that Iran had dropped 11 knotches — , from 101th to 117th — on the world happiness index, which includes 156 countries. 

The report used data from the Gallup polling company on life expectancy, government corruption, social welfare programs, economic wealth, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, political freedom and human rights in each of the 156 countries. 

Iraj Harirchi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said: “Close to 21 million Iranians suffer from mental illness. Political, social and economic challenges have a massive impact on the public’s mental health. More people die of mental illness in Iran than cancer and diabetes.” 

According to a recent government report, 23.4 percent of Iran’s adult population struggles with mental health issues. Of that total, 27.6 percent are men and 19.4 percent women.

“These figures are not useful to ordinary Iranians,” Dr. Iraj Khosronia, director of the Iranian College of Internal Medicines said. “The report should concern authorities and health professionals.”

Dr. Khosronia added: “When 30 percent of the population suffers from mental illness, then hospitals should rethink their healthcare strategy so that they can provide better treatments to these patients. Some people can hide their mental illness, but there are others who act out their psychological disorders in public. We have all witnessed various manifestations of mental problems in our society, including but not limited to aggressive and violent behavior.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]