MD, MS Clinical & Counseling Psychology
When I was applying for Fulbright scholarship to obtain a Master’s degree in Clinical & Counseling Psychology, one of my plans was to launch a website on psychology and mental health for Afghanistan after the completion of the program in 2011. Fortunately, I launched the website (Rawan Online, www.rawanonline.com) in October 2010 – a year earlier that I had expected- and I have been able to keep it consistently up to date so far.
Before I arrived in the United States, I had already gained some experience in the field of mental health by working with the Primary Mental Health Project (PMHP) organized and led by IAM (International Assistance Mission) in Herat Province in west Afghanistan. The reason I joined them after my graduation from medical school was that I had already been fascinated by this field – mental health and psychiatry – and how much it could help patients/clients suffering from a wide range of mental disorders and psychological problems. I would like to add that my trainer during the internship and later on my supervisors had a great impact on me.
The courses I took in the United States have been very rewarding, both in terms of theory and practice. They would obviously help me with my other plan: to help integrate counseling with the pure medical approach in Afghanistan by training and supervising at some point. Before it gets very personal, however, let me explain why we need a website on mental health and psychology in Afghanistan.
In addition to problems such as the high rate of psychological problems among Afghans and a shortage of personnel (some 60 percent of the population suffers from a mental problem with one million drug users whereas we have a very few psychiatrists), the stigma of mental disorders and a lack of awareness are two other huge obstacles in our way. This comes when there are not specific media outlets to improve people’s level of knowledge and tackle the stigmatization of these problems.
I am glad to say that according to the feedback I have received lately, Rawan Online (Farsi/Dari) has been a success for raising awareness and fighting the stigmatization of mental disorders in Afghanistan. It slowly but gradually finds its way among Afghan readers, particularly that we want to publish articles in Pashto, too, the other official language in the country. Nevertheless, I realized that we needed to expand our activities by focusing on Afghan immigrants, connecting Afghans inside and abroad, and inform non-Afghans about the mental health status in the country and what needed to be done to improve it.
To that end, we needed a website with a similar format but in a language most users would understand/use and here is the answer: Rawan Online in English! The website is aimed at publishing informative articles on mental disorders and psychological challenges of Afghans inside and abroad, and to raise awareness among non-Afghans about the mental health status among Afghan citizens and immigrants. The up-to-date information on psychology and mental health and the current challenges in Afghanistan and among Afghan communities abroad will appear on this website in addition to scholarly articles both by Afghan and non-Afghan professionals.
I would like to thank Naeem Azizian for his time and efforts to create both websites and for providing me with valuable information on technical aspects of the process. He has been an asset throughout this journey.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Nahid Aziz for her support and feedback for both Rawan Online Farsi & English.
Special thanks to all my friends who have supported me and provided feedback on the design and contents of Rawan Online. You are very dear to me!
Finally, I would like to dedicate Rawan Online English to my parents, Hafizollah and Golalai Darman. My father was a hardworking family man who played a crucial part on who I am now! I wish he was among us today! What my mother has done for me so far is just amazing and words just fail me to describe her sacrifices! I owe her a world and this website is only a small gift!
In the hope of a developed, prosperous Afghanistan and a more peaceful world with fewer stressed people!