By building psychosocial care into the primary health care system in Afghanistan, Inge Missmahl offers hope to a society traumatized by decades of conflict and insecurity.

Why you should listen

From dancer to humanitarian by way of analytical psychology, Inge Missmahl's unusual life trajectory led her to Kabul in 2004, where she saw that more than 60 percent of the population were suffering from depressive symptoms and traumatic experiences -- hardly surprising in a country that had lived with ongoing violence, poverty, and insecurity for 30 years. In response, Missmahl founded the psychosocial Project Kabul for Caritas Germany, a project that trained Afghan men and women to offer psychosocial counseling in 15 centers throughout the city.

The project has offered free treatment to 12,000 clients to date, helping to restore self-determination and well-being while breaking down ingrained gender barriers and social stigma of mental illness. Psychosocial counseling is now integrated in the Afghan health system thanks to Missmahl's efforts. She now works on behalf of the European Union as Technical Advisor for Mental Health for the Afghan government, and is founder of International Psychosocial Organisation (IPSO), a network of experts dedicated to developing and implementing psychosocial programs in various contexts.

What others say

“Psychological therapy is virtually unknown in Afghanistan. Until recently there were only 28 psychologists and psychiatrists in the country for roughly 30 million people.” — Martin Gerner,

Inge Missmahl’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Inge Missmahl

Live from TEDGlobal

Helping Afghan people find peace of mind: Inge Missmahl on

September 29, 2010

When Jungian analyst Inge Missmahl went to Afghanistan, she found the universal wounds of the human heart — despair and trauma. Yet in a country of 30 million people, there were only two dozen psychiatrists. In promoting mental health counseling, she’s helping Afghan people find individual and social healing, and building new hope for families […]

Continue reading