Over the course of 16 years, Abdul Rahman saw the sun for just a few times, as he had been entrapped throughout those years after a five-year journey of searching for hope, but the glimmer of hope in his recovery from mental disorders dissipated or almost dissolute, and his years of life folded between long hours of sleep, or in a state of delirium and lonely silence.
His younger sister says, with painful words and sorrowful expressions: "My brother is a high school graduate, but he felt ill, and was homeless most of the time. He retired from seeing people and his condition began to change. We did not leave a door without knocking on it, and no popular recipe that he did not apply on him. Two years before the death of my father, we used to go to Sana'a for the medical treatment of my brother. As a result, his state was getting better very slowly, but after my father passed away, we forcibly stopped the treatment of my brother.”
The family, consisting of three brothers and seven sisters, could not afford the cost of the living conditions and daily needs, let alone the burden of treatment for their brother. After a few years, the same disease - mental disorders - attacked the middle brother, so that the young man, who had suspended his university studies and was working on a motorcycle, entered a state of disorientation, in a valley where there was no friend or relative, only delusions.
His sister added to "Khuyut" by saying that: "My brother Ammar, is a father of two sons and he was working, suddenly his state began to change. Now, with the help of charitable people, we were able to buy some medicines, and his condition becomes stable, but if the medicines are halted for some time, his condition becomes very upset."
Mental illness has crushed not only men, but women as well, pushing half of the society into the abyss of suffering. Misery does not stop when the psychopath is a woman, in a very conserved society.
Throughout those years, she remembers the journey of misery and fear of living between two ill brothers who do not know what they are doing: "My other brother Abdul Rahman is locked (chains were placed on his feet) because he may beat anyone who approaches him, while the state of my brother Ammar, is calm and he stays without restrictions so that he can go in and out without harming others because he is peaceful. Our lives. Our lives have become full of suffering, worry, fear and crying day and night."
Qat increases mental disorders
Social stigma is one of the most important problems facing psychiatry in Yemen, according to the consultant in psychiatric and neurological diseases, Dr. Abdullah Khaled Al-Shara'abi, who confirmed that mental illness is one of eight diseases within the international classification, as mental illness is considered like any other disease, but the wrong social perception or the so-called social stigma - although it is a natural disease and the patient is curable - is a real problem that we have to encounter.
The psychologist pointed out that the social conditions and the conflict that the country is going through, increases mental illness chance significantly, as well as Qat which has a major role in increasing the rate of mental illness, and the patient resorts to it to escape from reality.
There is also another problem facing the psychiatrist, which is the lack of acceptance of treatment by both the patient and his family, as confirmed by Dr. Al-Shara'abi, due to the lack of awareness of the seriousness of mental illness, which requires dissemination and spreading awareness of health culture and psychotherapy.
Moreover, the main cause of many mental disorders that hit Yemeni citizens is due to depression, which stands at the top of the list, followed by mania, schizophrenia, and fear among women and children.
For his part, the head of the Al-Rahma Center for Mental Health, in a statement to "Khuyut", pointed out that the center received about 6444 patients from April of the year 2018 until the end of September of the current year 2022; of which 3826 cases are males, 2597 are females, and 21 are children, which reveals the scale of the tragedy that surrounds the lives of Yemenis by the spread of mental disorders. He also explained that mental illness is much more serious than any other disease, as it not only affects the individual, but also affects the whole family and society.
Al-Ghulaibi was speaking while reviewing a recent statistics of the center, when he added: “Mental disorder no longer affects a family member, but has exceeded that to affect more than one person. There are a large number of cases in the city of Dhammar, where it was found that there is more than one psychopath patient in the same house of both males and females which made this problem a frightening and dangerous."
Women are more likely to be psychotic
Mental disorder has crushed not only men, but women as well, pushing half of society into the abyss of suffering. Misery does not stop when the psychopath is a woman, in a very conserved society.
Azza Al-Asadi, a community activist, said in an interview with "Khuyut", that in Dhammar Governorate, there are hundreds of cases of mental disorders especially among women and girls. As a result, they are tied up and locked up in homes, while the vast majority of them are not provided with any psychological care or treatment.
Psychologist: “A person lives his life between two poles: if he gets close to one of them, it causes him psychological disorders. If the emotion outweighs the action or the reaction is exaggerated, then this is an indication of psychological disorders. On the contrary, if the reaction is negative and suggests any drive for feelings, this is an indication of a psychological problem."
There are also cases of mental illness between sisters or brothers inside the house, according to Al-Assadi, a psychologist at the Psychological Counseling Center at Dhammar University. "We are facing severe cases of suffering of women with mental disturbances whose families have been unable to treat them or provide them with any psychological care," she added.
Further, Al-Asadi recounts the details of the story of a mother called (Um Marwan), who has been suffering from "separation anxiety disorder" for five years. Consequently, she was imprisoned within the walls of her family's house after her divorce from her husband, who preferred to leave her after she became sick, and to marry another woman. She concluded her speech by saying that a woman’s mental illness rips the family entity apart and the children lose their warmth, only to find themselves battling life with an empty hand except for hope.
Haifa Sha'aban, a psychologist, believes that the years of war resulted in various changes among the Yemeni society, and created a new phenomenon that did not exist in Yemen. She told "Khuyut": ""The prevalence of mental disorders in Yemen is due to the outcomes of the war and the deterioration of social and economic conditions for women and men." She explained that the mental health that everyone seeks requires balance and acceptance of the current sickness situation and attempting to adapt to it."
She added: "Any person lives his life between two poles, if he approaches one of them, it causes him psychological disorders." "If the emotion outweighs the event or the reaction is exaggerated, then this is an indication of psychological disorders. Conversely, if the reaction is negative and suggests any emotion, then this is an indication of a psychological problem." She added.
Clinic and Center
The construction of the psychiatric hospital has been underway for four years, and the finishing works are nearing completion after the achievement of about 80% of the building’s equipment, according to the assurances of the head of the community committee, Mohammad Al-Yafai. Mohammad confirmed to "Khuyut", that the launch of the hospital is imminent and is expected to be a source for spreading a culture of mental health and providing medicines to treat disorder conditions that afflicted thousands of citizens of different ages and groups, noting that most of the patients with mental disorders are of the poor and downtrodden groups in society.
In Dhammar Governorate, there used to be four governmental and civil society service providers that provide psychological support and psychological treatment, which are currently closed or inactive: “Al-Rahma Center for Mental Health” – providing psychological support and treatment, “Yemen Women Union office in Dhammar, through its safe space for women and girls” “Psychological Counseling Center” affiliated with the University of Dhammar Dhamar - Currently out of services, "Case Management Office, Social Affairs and Labor Office in Dhammar" - Psychological support for children.
As a result, there is only one health clinic that provides psychological support and consultation, run by the specialist and researcher in the field of psychology, Fazae Al-Ansi, in addition to a department in the Faculty of Arts specializing in "Psychology" that was established in 2000, and hundreds of male and female students graduated from it with a "Bachelor of Psychology". Despite all this, patients with mental disorders are present in the diaries of Yemeni pain, but absent from public care and attention, and it seems that everyone is not concerned about their suffering and left them to be devoured by illusion and mental illness.