Students struggle with depression amid ongoing university closure in Afghanistan

Many students said they are grappling with depression following the Taliban’s decision last year to suspend higher education for women, a move that has had profound mental health implications.

According to health professionals, the ongoing denial of educational rights has triggered mental and emotional disorders among female students, including insomnia, anxiety, and increased heart rates.

Hadia, a 19-year-old journalism student, shared her despair upon learning of the university closures. “My throat tightened and I felt hopeless,” she said. Now, she is battling severe depression and is concerned about her future.

Parents and family members echo these sentiments, expressing their anguish at seeing their daughters’ distress and inability to answer their questions about when universities might reopen.

Farida, a Kabul resident and mother of a student, also a teacher herself, highlighted the widespread psychological impact. “I am deeply affected when I see girls who are exhausted and waiting for universities to open,” she said. “When the sixth-grade finals were held, the girls’ resilience impressed us all.”

Medical experts warn that symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and rapid heartbeat are significant indicators of mental illness and could lead to suicide. They stress that resuming education for girls is crucial to addressing these health issues.

Mohammad Allah Baloch, a psychologist, emphasized the importance of education for mental health. “Limiting education to one segment of society can severely damage the mental health of the community,” he said.

Female students reported spending the past year in anticipation of news about university reopenings, only to have their hopes repeatedly dashed by the Taliban’s refusal to lift the ban.