Women and girls, in particular, in Kurdistan and Iraq often face forms of abuse in the home, including but not limited to physical and emotional harm. Lacking sufficient local psychosocial systems, survivors have few options. In one recent example, SEED’s partner organization in Sulaimani, Wchan, provided mental health services in order to help Helin* improve her psychological state and facilitate a successful outcome.

After facing nearly a decade of abuse and neglect by her husband and parents, Helin decided to seek assistance for the psychological, physical and emotional trauma she had become a victim to. Through a partnership between SEED Foundation and Wchan (Organization for Victims of Human Rights Violations), Helin was provided mental health services and her symptoms have improved. SEED and Wchan have been working together for the past two years. The partnership enables SEED to offer services in Sulaimani Province and to support a strong and local NGO. SEED is grateful that Wchan also plays an advisory role at the Center for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services at Koya University.

Regularly meeting with two psychologists in Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Helin, who is in her 20s, showed measurable improvement in assessment tools which Wchan uses to measure progress such as the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) and other psychological tests scores. “The case closed successfully and all the symptoms became better. Both WHODAS and PHQ-9 showed marked decrease in those scores,” her psychologists explained in 2019.

Helin initially was referred to Wchan by public facilities which that was unable to meet her psychosocial needs, as Iraq and Kurdistan have a shortage of specialized services. In addition to frequent headaches prior to treatment, she suffered from psychological effects including sadness, an inability to sleep, fear, anger, a reduction in social activity. SEED and Wchan have been working together for the past two years. The partnership enables SEED to offer services in Sulaimani Province and to support a strong and local NGO. SEED is grateful that Wchan also plays an advisory role at the Center for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services at Koya University.

Moreover, in a culture where the family is traditionally paramount, Helin had problematic relations with both her mother and her father. Following her improvements, Helin met the established treatment goals and completed treatment. She attended nine sessions in the just over two-month period while undergoing individual psychotherapy. 

To read more stories like Helin’s, visit SEED’s website [[seedkurdistan.org/our-stories/]], where you can find cases of people impacted by this crisis and whose lives we are changing in Kurdistan. Their courage and determination to survive inspires SEED’s staff and partners every day.

*Name and minor details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.