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Overcoming depression in a conflict zone

In Yemen the ongoing conflict is not just affecting people’s physical health, but their mental health too.

Rachael Adams | 03 Dec 2020

One morning, Salha’s husband, Darwish, went to work. It was supposed to be a day like any other, but instead a rocket exploded just metres away from him. Darwish died from his injuries three months later. Salha’s world was turned upside down.

Yemen, where the family lives, is in the midst of a brutal conflict. And it’s ordinary families, like Salha’s*, who are paying the price.

Darwish* was the breadwinner of the family. When he passed away, as well as losing her husband and friend, Salha lost all of her financial stability.

Joy to ashes

Salha soon became depressed. She lost her appetite and stopped doing all of her regular activities. Even caring for her children was too much.

Grief manifested into anger and she became violent towards her sons. They would leave the house as often as they could and beg for food. 

Salha slowly became even more isolated; friends and family gave up on her, calling her crazy. But Salha wasn’t crazy. The violence, sadness and isolation were all manifestations of her depression and response to trauma.

A mother returns

Tearfund’s local partner encouraged Salha to participate in one of the support groups they run in the community. Through these groups, people share and process their emotions and begin to heal from their pain. With the six-year conflict showing no sign of stopping, these groups are a lifeline to many.

In the group sessions, once Salha began to talk about what had happened to her, things started to change. After three sessions she began to smile for the first time in a long time. It was here she found strength to begin again: ‘I will now take care of myself and my children,’ she declared.

And it’s her sons who have the joy of having their mother back. ‘She treats us in a tender way and plays with us,’ shares one of her sons. ‘We never want to be away from our mother now.’

Please pray

God of wholeness, God of grace, draw near to all who are hurting from conflict. Bring them your peace and comfort, your hope and your joy. We lift up to you the Yemeni people who have gone through so much. Lord, bring an end to this conflict; bring peace to this nation. Amen.

*Names changed to protect identities

Rachael Adams


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