2017-06-16 / Society

Former resident of Midlands makes documentary

By Cindy Ott


Cindy Ott Cindy Ott Cindy Ott and her husband, John, used to live at Lake Murray in Chapin. She worked in broadcasting in Columbia for awhile, some television and mostly radio, in my first career. Her husband's dad used to run Mitchell Ott Realty, and they still have real estate connections in the Midlands. They also both have family and friends who live in Columbia, and the area.

This was my fourth visit to Afghanistan, and I would serve as a mental health media advisor. My task was to help promote mental health awareness, via a television documentary, in this nation where depression and anxiety diagnoses abound, surely exacerbated by almost 40 years of war.

An estimated 2,300 Afghan women and girls, between the ages of 15 and 40 years old, commit suicide each year? Or, that 87 percent of women in Afghanistan have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse?

According to an Afghan psychiatrist, “Family violence will be in different types, including forced marriage, or underage marriage. It will be a root cause of depression. The first cause of forced marriage will be poverty. This kind of family cannot support their family with their income. They will force their daughters to marry, even underage. This underage marriage can cause depression,” MH said.


Past traditional dress of Afghan women. Some women have chosen to change this tradition. Past traditional dress of Afghan women. Some women have chosen to change this tradition. Another cause of depression is girls can be used as goods to mediate feuds between families.

Another Afghan psychiatrist said, “I saw children who committed suicide. In one family, a 12- year-old girl shot herself with a gun due to their family problems.

One woman said when she was a child, two brothers and an uncle set explosives on themselves and blew themselves up within two days. Then, injured people, missing hands and feet, were brought to their home, and she was given bloody bandages to give to the older women to wash.

A depressed female patient said, “In Afghanistan, we know because of war, explosions, suicides, kidnappings, many people face mental health problems. They should change their vision toward the mental health hospital and come to solve their problems.”

In many healthcare environments, restraints are used when patients are psychotic, but there is something about seeing people restrained with thick metal chains at the ankles, that is unsettling to the spirit.

In Afghanistan, it is not an uncommon practice for schizophrenic or psychotic patients to be chained in this way. If someone is pychotic, I was told it is standard practice for family members to chain or lock him up in a room. I was told that no one ever visits them, that their families leave a phone number and say call if there is a problem. I was told that families never call; they never visit.

Healthcare workers, government, and school officials in Afghanistan are working together to help promote mental health awareness in a proactive, coordinated effort to improve the lives of the people. As one doctor said, “Prevention is cheap- er than treatment.”

Through various challenges, the TV documentary was completed on the last day of my month long visit. The English version has been uploaded to YouTube, with the name, Afghanistan, Depression: the Silent Enemy, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNJ8VwSgykM&t=34s.

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