Safeguarding Girls’ Mental Health a Priority

Safeguarding Girls’  Mental Health a PrioritySafeguarding Girls’  Mental Health a Priority

Due to its multiple social ramifications, the psychological health of girls is a major issue to be addressed, said Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi on Monday.

“That is precisely why the issue has been given priority by the vice presidency in the upcoming five-year development plan (March 2016-2021),” she was quoted as saying by IRNA at the 27th meeting of heads of varsity counseling centers from across the country held at Iran University of Science and Technology in Tehran.

Molaverdi said the environment of universities is subject to constant change from within and outside due to their proactive relations and interactions. The thousands of students who enter universities annually face a myriad of challenges including the pressures of academic studies and distance from families.

“Such challenges have side effects and can overwhelm students, more so girls, since the latter are generally more emotionally attached to families; a feeling of social insecurity will only exacerbate psychological stress, influencing their mental state.”

Various social factors put women at greater risk of poor mental health than men. Women’s role as guardians of family health makes it particularly important that they understand how the choices they make in everyday life can affect their mental health.

Failure to address the fundamental issues in a timely and efficient way will harm the social system; needless to say family structures will not remain immune to psychological disorders among girls.

Promoting the quality of healthcare services in psychological areas is a prerequisite to preventing the wider social ills that challenge the structures of families, and the government must adopt policies and strategies accordingly.

 Programs Implemented

“Over the past two and a half years [since the beginning of the current administration], the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs has devised and implemented programs [targeting women] in 14 areas in cooperation with affiliated organizations including those involved in healthcare, to advance the level of knowledge and awareness, and help reduce risk factors,” Molaverdi said.

Establishing family health clinics, drawing up educational packages aimed to promote physical and mental health of both genders, supporting and sponsoring educational courses, setting up a health and hygiene workgroup at the vice presidency, compiling a full report on the status of women’s health in the sixth FYDP, pursuing the drafting of the Document of Social Security and Protection of Women and Children and presenting it to the Management and Planning Organization, and signing a memorandum of understanding with the Health Ministry to step up efforts to promote the psychological health of university students, were among the measures taken.

“Equal gender opportunities is also a top priority and an aspiration of the vice-presidency, and has been proposed in the upcoming FYDP,” she said.

Molaverdi has often reiterated that given the increasing number of educated women and the number of women who have graduated from universities and are looking for jobs, “we are in need of an established plan, and President Hassan Rouhani’s administration is paying heed to this issue. We are formulating policies for sustainable employment, and one of the groups that we are targeting is female university graduates.”