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Health Minister Says Iran Has Serious Mental Health Problem, Needs Happiness

Young people arrested in Iran caught during a night party, undated.

Iran's Health Minister Saeed Namaki has warned against an outbreak of depression and other psychological disorders in Iran.

Namaki said Iran has a "serious mental health problem," and suffers from a shortage of hospital beds in psychiatric wards.

The health minister called on the state TV, the media and the clerics to promote the sense of happiness in society, official news agency IRNA reported on December 22.

He blamed the media and clerics for failing to tackle the sense of depression in the Iranian society.

Iranian clerics and officials have occasionally talked about the need for "real happiness" in Iran, but their own track record has led to a profound sense of despair and unhappiness that have led to massive protests against discrimination and injustice, most recently in mid-November.

The official ideology of the Islamic Republic discourages “earthly joys” and over-emphasizes Shiite religious rites, which are mainly mourning ceremonies for martyrs and saints. Dancing and most pop music are banned in public, films and books are heavily censored. Television carries few entertainment programs, which are also produced according to religious restrictions and must pass through a special censorship process.

Ironically, It was the health minister's sarcastic and politically incorrect comments about the spread of HIV in the Iranian town of Lordegan in southern Iran that created despair and stirred controversy in the area a few weeks ago when he accused local villagers of promiscuity.