File - An Iraqi girl from the Yazidi minority carries firewood on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
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The group of women, members of Iraq's Yazidi religious minority, first did deep breathing as a relaxation technique.With such group counseling sessions, international aid groups are trying to help at least some of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled from their homes to escape ISIS jihadis and now live crammed into multiple camps such as Chamishko around the north. The ISIS-led rampage across northern and western Iraq the past 18 months only adds a new generation of traumatized Iraqis after decades of war and conflict. Dr. Emad Abdul-Razzaq, the adviser on mental health issues to the Health Ministry, estimates that 40 to 50 percent of Iraq's 33 million people have been affected by the trauma of the last few decades, in some cases causing serious personality changes like increased anger, anxiety and aggressiveness. Losing one's home is one of the biggest stress factors that can raise mental health issues – and since January 2014, more than 2.7 million Iraqis have fled their homes because of the ISIS advance, about a third of them flowing into camps in and around the northern Kurdish region.
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