Mental illness affects a fifth of people living in war zones

In this file photo taken on June 13, 1999 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo, followed by US troops on their way to Uroshevac walk down the road to Pristina shortly after crossing the border with Macedonia in General Jankovic 13 June 1999. (AFP)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Mental illness affects a fifth of people living in war zones

  • The study was funded by the WHO, the Queensland Department of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

LONDON: One in five people in war zones has depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, with many suffering severe forms of these mental illnesses.
The findings highlight the long-term impact of war-induced crises in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the UN’s health agency said, and the numbers are significantly higher than in peacetime populations, where around one in 14 people has a mental illness.
“Given the large numbers of people in need and the humanitarian imperative to reduce suffering, there is an urgent need to implement scalable mental health interventions to address this burden,” the research team said.
Mark van Ommeren, a mental health specialist at the WHO who worked on the team, said the findings “add yet more weight to the argument for immediate and sustained investment, so that mental and psychosocial support is made available to all people in need living through conflict and its aftermath.”
In 2016, the number of ongoing armed conflicts reached an all-time high of 53 in 37 countries and 12% of the world’s people are living in an active war zone, according to United Nations figures. Since World War Two, almost 69 million people globally have been forced to flee war and violence.
The WHO’s conflict mental health study, published in The Lancet medical journal, was carried out by a team of researchers from the WHO, Australia’s Queensland University, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and Harvard University in the United States.
It analyzed research from 129 studies and data from 39 countries published between 1980 and August 2017.
Regions that have seen conflict in the last 10 years were included and mental illnesses were categorized as either mild, moderate or severe. Natural disasters and public health emergencies, such as Ebola, were not included.
Overall in war zones, the average prevalence was highest for mild mental health conditions, at 13%. Around 4% of people living amid armed conflict had moderate mental health illness, and for severe conditions the prevalence was 5%.
The study also found that rates of depression and anxiety in conflict settings appeared to increase with age, and depression was more common among women than men.
The study was funded by the WHO, the Queensland Department of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 17 September 2019

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.