Virtual Conference
Mental Health 2022

Mohammad Sajjad Afsharzada

Herat University, Afghanistan

Title: Mental health and suicidality in Afghan students after the Taliban takeover in 2021


Background: On the 15th of August 2021, Kabul was captured by the Taliban, leading to the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The present study investigated PTSD symptoms, depression, suicide risk and facets of positive mental health in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban take-over.

Methods: A total of 214 Afghan university students (73.7% women; age in years: M(SD) = 23.92 (5.77)) took part in this cross-sectional study between August and November 2021. Self-report measures of PTSD, depression, suicide ideation/behavior, positive mental health, social support, and posttraumatic growth were used.

Results: Severe posttraumatic stress disorders symptoms were reported by 70%, clinically relevant depression symptoms were reported by 69.7% and significant suicide ideation/behavior was reported by 38.6% of the sample. Posttraumatic growth moderated the impact of depression on suicide risk. No interaction effects werefound for positive mental health and social support.

Limitation: The study focused on a specific group of highly educated and predominantly female Afghan students limiting the generalizability of the findings.

Conclusion: PTSD symptoms, depression and suicidality show an alarmingly high prevalence in this specificsample of Afghan students. Various protective factors seem to be insufficient to buffer the association between PTSD, depression and suicide risk.