Offering psychosocial support to Afghans under stress

One in two people living in Afghanistan have have experienced depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, but fewer than 10% are able to access adequate psychosocial support.

Decades of conflict, displacement, poverty and unemployment have taken a huge toll on the Afghan people, and the health-care system has long been ill-equipped to provide them with mental heath care and psychosocial support. With political instability, the global pandemic and the dwindling economy, these health systems are now on the brink of collapse. 

In response to this situation, Seefar launched the Salamat Hotline in September 2021. Salamat offers a safe and dependable environment for vulnerable Afghans who have faced acute trauma, uncertainty, stress and confusion. Teams of counsellors are providing Psychological First Aid (PFA); a proven approach which reduces the symptoms of stress and anxiety, assisting in a healthy recovery following a traumatic event. 

Salamat counsellors guide callers to help them understand symptoms and work through immediate adaptations and coping strategies. Our counsellors have received intensive training and participate in regular coaching from our in-house team of psychologists. Salamat employs both male and female counsellor services in Dari and Pashto, complemented by Facebook pages (DariPashto) which share information posts and videos with self-care tips, such as sleep improvement, doing workouts at home, dealing with feelings of depression, etc.

Salamat Facebook pages gained over 22,000 followers in the first three months after launch, resulting in upwards of 2,000 consultation requests. We have provided more than 1,500 one on one consultations with counsellors so far; with 60% of callers requesting a second consultation. 

“My daughter felt depressed after losing her job recently. She was sad, isolated and irritable. But with the help of your kind consultants after two counseling sessions, she is much better now. She is trying to find a new job and has a better moral.” â€“ Salamat Beneficiary

After consultations, 96% of the callers have adopted at least one stress management strategy suggested by a Salamat counsellor, such as talking to a friend/family member, improving their sleep patterns or identifying stressors. 7 out of 10 callers have also reported a moderate to high increase in their knowledge on how to react to symptoms of stress and depression. 

Salamat will continue to provide its service in 2022, as access to continued psychosocial support is vital in building resilience and promoting recovery of highly traumatised Afghans. Seefar strongly believes that psychosocial support and mental health services is a basic human right and is committed to supporting Afghans in need.

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