Iran-depression, addiction and mental illness

Addiction: Iran has the highest opiate drug addiction rate in the world (source: 2005 UN World Drug Report) with an estimated 3-5 million drug addicts in Iran.

Depression: 21% of the population (15 million people) suffer from depression (sources: official Iranian government report, November 2005, Iranian Ministry of Health report, October 2005).

Mental illness: Over 10% of the population suffers from at least one psychiatric disorder (source: survey conducted by the Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health).

The figures are probably higher now than they were when recorded. A sorry state.

I have seen first-hand the devastating effect that losing family members in the Iran/Iraq war has had on some individuals. Husbands, brothers, sons. I have also seen the heartbreak caused by the 1979 happenings as well the emotional toll on members of our family affected by drug addiction and who are going through the lengthy process of methadone treatment right now.

It is heartbreaking to accompany Feri’s mum,  a widow and mother, to the graves of her late husband dead for over thirty years and two of her three sons. I stand in support and watch her weep as if they had died only yesterday. As a mother myself I find this particularly difficult and can only imagine the raw pain still embedded  in her as she lies prostrate across their grave stones sobbing her prayers. You cannot fail to be moved and I can only hope that I don’t find myself in the same position one day.

There may be much that’s considered “wrong” here, but these are normal people trying to live normal lives under difficult circumstances. The individuals affected deserve our support as much as anyone and I hope that I have done my bit to help despite our differences.

Tolerance and compassion. Please.

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