Addressing Afghanistan: The American Psychiatric Association’s Statement

Mental health care for US service members, refugees, and Afghans will be crucial.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a statement addressing US veterans and refugee mental health and the evacuation from Afghanistan.

“The news and images coming out of Afghanistan these past days have been difficult to watch and our thoughts go out to the people of Afghanistan and to the 800,000 US service members who worked to establish peace in the country over the past 20 years,” the statement said in opening remarks.

The APA went on to emphasize the need for mental health care access for US service members, individuals in foreign service and their families, and evacuated Afghans. Refugees and asylum seekers are at higher risk of developing disorders like depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

“APA and its members stand ready to support those impacted in the weeks and months ahead. We should ensure that our country provides the needed mental health resources to address this traumatic situation for all who need them,” the statement said further.

They also recommended anyone impacted by the recent events seek professional help if needed, so as to prevent manifestations of stress, anxiety, and serious mental disorders.

Provided below is a list of resources:

-The Veterans Crisis Hotline connects veterans, service members, and their families and friends with caring Veterans Administration responders through a confidential hotline at 1-800-273- 8255.

-The National Suicide Lifeline (800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and prevention and crisis resources.

-APA’s Find a Psychiatrist database.

-APA’s Stress & Trauma Toolkit for Treating Undocumented Immigrants in a Changing Political and Social Environment.

-APA’s Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health video.

For more on the Afghanistan conflict from a psychiatrist perspective, Psychiatrists Concerned With the Afghanistan Situation: Ethical and Practical Issues.

Reference

1. American Psychiatric Association. APA statement on addressing US veteran and refugee mental health in evacuation from Afghanistan. News release. August 25, 2021. https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-statement-on-addressing-u-s-veteran-and-refugee-mental-health-in-evacuation-from-afghanistan