Hardly surprisingly there is evidence of substantial mental-health problems among adults in Afghanistan but there is little evidence about how children are getting on. Researchers from Durham University studied a sample of 1,011 children, 1,011 caregivers and 358 teachers in 25 government-run schools in Kabul, Bamyan and Mazar-e-Sharif. They found that about 22% of the children met the criteria for 'probable psychiatric disorder' with girls being around two-and-a-half times more likely to have problems than boys. Children who had suffered five or more traumatic events were two-and-a-half times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder and three times more likely to report symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) than other children. Each symptom of psychological stress reported by caregivers led to a 10% increase in the probability of a psychiatric disorder in the children they were looking after. Children in Kabul were more likely to have mental-health problems and PTSD than children in the other two areas. The researchers pointed out that a lot of the trauma experienced by the children was due to 'everyday' violence rather than the ongoing war and that Afghan children showed remarkable resistance and strength in dealing with hardship.
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