In the past 50 years Iraq has endured three major wars, a violent coup, two invasions, a decade of bombing, two insurgencies, attack by IS, and a sectarian civil war. Living through such relentless bloodshed has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s mental health. More than one third of Iraqi children are thought to have moderate-to-severe mental illness and all social indicators, from divorce to suicide, show significant increases.
There’s just one psychiatric hospital in the whole country and only one psychiatrist for every 300,000 people – yet, as this film reveals, the biggest obstacle to overcoming Iraq’s mental health crisis is stigma. An Iraqi Ministry of Health study found that 65% of respondents thought psychological problems came from ‘personal weakness’, and over half said they’d feel ashamed if a family member suffered from mental illness.
A year in the making, BBC’s documentary Iraq: A State of Mind explores the mental health crisis that’s gripped the Iraqi people; the stigma still attached to psychological suffering; and what is now being done to help.