SEED Foundation and The University of Kurdistan Hewlêr (UKH) Solidify Commitment to Support Improved Mental Health Services in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Erbil, Iraq – January 17, 2022: SEED Foundation President and Executive Director, Sherri Kraham Talabany and UKH President, Bill Rammell have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to improve the awareness and understanding of between 300-500 students in Psychosocial Support (PSS) awareness. The initiative is implemented with funding support from the Government of the United States.

Following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in early 2020, public health and governmental restrictions such as social distancing, movement restrictions, and business closures have exacerbated feelings of isolation and loneliness, and further increased stress and anxiety. There has also been a worrying increase in gender-based violence (GBV), including technologically-facilitated GBV (TFGBV), especially among youth and young adults. This is alarming as women and girls in Iraq were already experiencing some of the highest rates of GBV in the world pre-COVID-19.

“In a region marred by decades of conflict and crisis, people living in the KRI suffer from limited access to basic mental health and PSS services. We need to challenge the societal stigmatization of mental health and GBV, and help create an understanding of how to access support services. This collaboration with UKH aims to build the knowledge of young people so that they can guide others and help break the taboo.” explains SEED Foundation President and Executive Director, Sherri Kraham Talabany.

This MoU will see a first cohort of students attend awareness sessions starting in February, with sessions scheduled to continue on a bimonthly basis until May. Structured and guided awareness sessions will be held by SEED’s own technical advisors on topics such as stress management, mental health, wellbeing and self-care, and online safety and healthy relationships. Together, SEED and UKH aim to help increase awareness and understanding of these topics, and inform students about pathways to access help and support.

This new partnership builds on SEED Foundation’s existing commitment to deliver mental health and PSS awareness raising sessions in Universities across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. To date, over 250 students have benefitted from PSS training activities hosted by SEED Foundation.

SEED Foundation is a locally registered non-governmental organization that was created in 2014 to promote Social, Educational, and Economic Development. Our mission has been focused on supporting survivors of violence and those at risk in their recovery through provision of high-quality, comprehensive mental health, case management, and other psychosocial support services.