Leyla Ismayilova: healing with words instead of pills

Elsevier, The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Volume 7, April 2023
Kazi F., Mushtaq A.

Having lived through the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Leyla Ismayilova's life experiences shaped her professional journey. “Before the collapse, everyone's life was more or less the same under communism. Afterwards, life as we knew it fell apart completely.” Ismayilova states that the collapse of the Soviet Union decreased overall life expectancy significantly. “Families were imploding as people were unable to cope with unemployment and many turned to substance [use].” During this turbulent time, not only was Ismayilova transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood, but her family also emigrated from Russia to Azerbaijan, her father's country of birth. Wanting to explore the relationship between mental health and socioeconomic factors, Ismayilova decided to study human behaviour. She discloses that she was raised in a family where “almost everyone was involved with medicine”, motivating her to try to “heal with words, instead of pills”. Subsequently, Ismayilova received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology from Baku State University (Baku, Azerbaijan), and then her Master's degree and PhD in Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work (New York, NY, USA), with a focus on advanced clinical practice with children and families.