Resources for Afghan and Afghan American Students and Allies

Afghans and Afghan Americans, as well as their loved ones and allies, are having strong feelings about and reactions to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the takeover by the Taliban. Some have experienced trauma, and many are afraid for family and friends still in Afghanistan. You are not alone.

See below for information, coping tools, resources, and supports. If you would like to meet with a CAPS therapist, call during business hours at (415) 422-6352 or -6351 or complete a request for an appointment online to schedule an appointment, or call the All Hours Line at any time to talk to a professional therapist at (855) 531-0761.

 

Common Reactions and Symptoms

People undergoing an experience that may be life threatening or cause other serious physical, psychological, or emotional harm may experience an acute stress reaction or a trauma reaction. Seeing traumatic events in the media, hearing about traumatic events, or knowing loved ones are experiencing traumatic events may also cause an acute stress or trauma reaction. Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or shock
  • Anxiety, fear
  • Increased startle response
  • Hypervigilance, or an increased alertness to potential threat or danger, even if none is imminent
  • Flashbacks, nightmares
  • Changes to sleep and/or appetite
  • Feelings of anger
  • Intrusive thoughts or memories
  • Desire to avoid anything that provides a reminder of the traumatic incident/situation
  • Desire to withdraw from other people

Most people have some of these reactions after a trauma. Having such a reaction is very common and does not indicate weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks. For most people, these reactions or symptoms slowly decrease over time. For some people, symptoms may last longer and/or stay the same or even increase, in which case a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be made.

 

Ways to Cope

If you are struggling, ask for support from friends, loved ones, mentors, religious leaders, religious or spiritual community, and/or mental health professionals. Some additional coping strategies include the following:

  • Try to stick to a routine, as this structure can be comforting.
  • Don't push yourself too hard; you may need to do less and rest more.
  • Limit media exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress. Written news may be less triggering than photos or video.
  • Seek out comforts, such as favorite movies and shows, inspirational reading, music, and hobbies.
  • Use self-soothing tools, such as a hot bath or shower, a walk, prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, eating favorite foods, or drinking a warm cup of tea.
  • Avoid isolating yourself, even if you feel like withdrawing; however, it may help to limit extra or stressful social activity.
  • If you notice that your thoughts are extreme, exaggerated, or otherwise unhelpful, try "talking back" to them in a helpful or realistic way, using mindfulness or distraction to take a break from thoughts, or talking to a trusted person to get support and new perspectives.
  • Focus on what you can control (e.g., your schoolwork, providing support to loved ones, donating money to causes that help, engaging in activitm or volunteering) and not what you can't control.
  • Avoid judging yourself for any reactions you are having.
  • Let other people know what you need; sometimes others offer help in ways we don't like or want. They may need to know more specifically what would help (e.g., "It would feel good if you just listened; I don't need advice," "It would really help me if you could pick up some things at the store," "I don't feel like talking, but it helps if we can just hang out together").
  • If your reactions are making it hard to focus on school or work, seek help and support from your professors, CASA coach, and other USF staff and faculty.

If you are experiencing trauma symptoms that are severe or are not improving over time, or you are having thoughts of suicide or violence toward others, we encourage you to seek professional mental health services.

Additional resources are listed in the following drop-down section.

Crisis & Support Resources

  • CAPS All Hours Line: Call (855) 531-0761 any time for support, crisis assistance, or consultation. Available to USF students with an urgent need to talk to a therapist and USF affiliates concerned about a USF student's mental health and needing consultation.
  • Crisis Text Line: 24-hour crisis counseling by trained peer counselors via text message or Facebook Messenger. In the U.S. or Canada, text HOME to 741741. People of color wishing to text with a counselor of color can text STEVE to 741741. In the U.K., text SHOUT to 85258; in Ireland, text HELLO to 50808. To use Messenger, visit the website and click the Messenger link.
  • Emergency Contacts for U.S. Citizens in Afghanistan: For emergency assistance for U.S. citizens, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kabul at  KabulACS@state.gov or call 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. or Canada) or +1-202-501-4444 (overseas).
  • Mental Health Association of San Francisco "Warm Line": Call for support at (855) 845-7415 or visit their website to chat with a trained volunteer counselor (Sundays 7 am–9 pm, Mondays–Fridays 7 am–11 pm, and Saturdays 7 am–3 pm). Not for crises involving imminent risk of harm to self or others.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK (8255); 24-hour free and confidential support for people in distress and prevention and resources for people in crisis or their loved ones. The Lifeline is made up of a national network of more than 150 local crisis centers.
  • SF Women Against Rape (SFWAR): Call (415) 647-7273; 24-hour hotline that provides support, information, and resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault and their friends, family members, and others. Assists survivors of all genders and sexual identities.
  • University Ministry: Spiritual and religious support to USF community members of all faiths. UMin support is available to students, staff, and faculty. Not for crises involving imminent risk of harm to self or others or otherwise needing urgent response.

Other Resources

  • Afghan Coalition: A Bay Area nonprofit located in Fremont, CA, dedicated to strengthening Afghan families, improving their access to social services, and building a strong and united Afghan American community. Provides community, educational, legal consultation, and mental health resources and services. The Prevention and Early Intervention Project provides culturally sensitive prevention and early intervention mental health services and increases access to mental health treatment for Afghans living in Alameda County.
  • Afghan Soft Landing Fund for Northern CA: A fund created by International Rescue Committee to aid Afghan refugees in Northern California. Visit the website to donate and get more information.
  • Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: The West Coast consulate is based in Los Angeles and provides information and assistance with business, cultural, or travel matters associated with Afghanistan.
  • Consulate of Afghanistan in San Francisco: Provides information and assistance with business, cultural, or travel matters associated with Afghanistan.
  • Human Rights First: A nonprofit that works to defend human dignity and the rights and freedom of people everywhere, including Afganistan. 
  • International Refugee Assistance Project: Legal information and resources for Afghan refugees.
  • International Rescue Committee: Email the White House to ask President Biden and the State Department to do everything possible to facilitate the safe and orderly departure from Afghanistan of all eligible U.S.-affiliated persons in need of safety and protection. 
  • Repatriation Application: For students and U.S. citizens currently in Afghanistan, you can fill out the Repatriation Assistance Request form on the U.S. Embassy’s website. Additional assistance can be requested from the office of Alex Padilla, U.S. Senator for California.
  • U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan: Assistance to United States citizens currently in Afghanistan. Located in Kabul.
  • U.S. State Department Travel Emergency Info: Provides information on how to get help when traveling due to various emergency situations or get help for a loved one traveling abroad.
  • Women for Afghan Women: The largest grassroots women's organization in Afghanistan, dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York. 
  • Women for Women International: Visit their website to learn more and to donate to provide emergency support for women in Afghanistan.