Youth Help Line offers assistance as mental health issues soar in Afghanistan

By Aminullah

A man speaks on his mobile phone along a road in Kabul on July 21, 2021. [Sajjad Hussain/AFP]

A man speaks on his mobile phone along a road in Kabul on July 21, 2021. [Sajjad Hussain/AFP]

KABUL -- A phone line to provide youth counseling, established a decade ago, is still helping young Afghans grappling with mental health issues.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2012 provided financial and technical assistance to set up Youth Health Line 120 to help Afghan youth who cannot share their problems directly with psychologists or physicians.

The phone line is reachable by dialing 120 from any network in Afghanistan for free.

HealthNet TPO, an international non-governmental organisation, manages the phone line.

"The purpose of establishing the 120 help line centre is to empower youth from the perspective of health, psychological and reproductive health issues," Dr. Wahid Noori, who oversees the phone line, told Salaam Times.

The phone line allows young Afghans "to share their mental problems and concerns easily and free of charge with a doctor or psychologist from their homes", which would otherwise be difficult "because of cultural and social constraints", Noori said.

"While the number of employees of the centre fluctuates depending on the circumstances, seven male and seven female specialists currently work at the centre," he said.

The number of callers is growing every day and month, Noori said.

Over the past month, the phone line registered 90,888 calls from all over the country. The callers were 41,457 men and 49,431 women, he added.

The centre is open 60 hours a week and operates in two shifts -- from 8.00am to 3.00pm and from 3.00pm to 8.00pm, Noori said.

"The majority of the youth calling the centre have sexual, mental health, reproductive health, and domestic violence problems," he noted.

Benefits of the help line

The help line is very effective given the problems the youth are facing, according to Mohammad Naser Habibi, a Kabul University psychologist.

"Afghanistan is in a very bad situation right now when it comes to psychological issues," he told Salaam Times.

"Assessments show that Afghanistan is one of the saddest countries in the world," Habibi said. "The economic situation has affected the psyche of members of society, and the level of despair is rising day by day."

"Mental health is severely affected," he added. "In the current situation, there is no better option than strengthening psychological support."

"The centre's budget depends on the level of activities, so every year's budget is different. If we have more calls and more services rendered, the expenses also increase, and vice versa," said Abdul Rahman Zaem, UNFPA's Afghanistan spokesperson, told Salaam Times, without providing precise numbers.

"In any case, the budget is covered and there are no limitations in the budget," he added.

Do you like this article?

3 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

This is a good step because most young people are dealing with mental illnesses, and if such services are provided, they will think about positive ways instead of negative ones. There are many issues in Afghan society that no one can share. Still, if such services are available, they can easily share them with a person.


In Afghanistan, our youth are suffering from mental illness due to the problems they have. In Afghanistan, our youth, whether male or female, are concerned about their destiny. Lack of good governance in the recent years causes our youth to be unaware of their future and always suffer because of this institution. Our youth will not have a bright future even if they are educated. For 80.00% of our youth, the work field is not equal. In Afghanistan, 70% of young people's dreams of dignity are not fulfilled. In Afghanistan, 60% of our youth can't get married due to their economy or they have family problems. These problems cause our youth to suffer from mental illness. Helpline No. 120 can help these young people a lot today.


During the last 20-22 years, the United Nations, especially American welfare organizations and government agencies, have done many useful things in Afghanistan. American soldiers killed many Afghans, and many atrocities were committed on both sides, but the truth is that many positive things were also done. Providing such a telephone service is beneficial for the youth. On the one hand, Afghan society is a traditional society. On the other hand, the fighting of the last four and a half decades has left us far behind the grand caravan of world development. I was 25 years old, but I felt shy to ask the shopkeeper for machines for shaving my balls [gillet machines]. The way I dare to write the word balls here, I can't speak soo in front of people, and I can't mention such words. I mean that services like the helpline should be expanded further. It has extraordinary significance for boys and girls, especially girls who are not married; they have many problems that they should secretly share with the doctors. Thanks