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Mental illness on the rise.

KARACHI -- Mental illness is increasing day-by-day in Pakistan; the nation is suffering from mental issues in background of growing insecurity, poverty, violence, terrorism, economical problems, political uncertainty, unemployment, stressful working conditions, gender discrimination and many other social issues.

These views were expressed by KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, while delivering the presidential address at an international conference on Redefining Mental Health and Wellbeing, organised by Department of Psychology, in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) at Arts Auditorium on Thursday.

He said that the Department of Psychology has a critical importance in order to mentally heal people of society.

Dean Faculty of Arts Professor Dr Muhammad Ahmed Qadri emphasised on removing stereotypes from the society and promote humanity regardless of religion, nationality and culture.

'We need to treat everyone as humans and promote peace and tolerance in society for a better and peaceful world,' he added. Department of Psychology Coordinator Professor Dr Qudsia Tariq said: 'This is the first time in history, we are having this international conference, we have 600 plus participants and more than 40 papers are being presented in the conference.'

'Mental disorder is a taboo in society; we need to eliminate this thinking and start accepting it as a social reality. The state of psychiatric services is dismal in Pakistan, the government needs to take up the issue of increasing number of psychological patients and take appropriate measures.' Dr Tariq added.

Dr Christopher in his keynote address said that in the last 25 years, the field of psychology has experienced changes; it has shifted from treating negative virtues to improving the positive virtues of mind. A list of mental illness disorders was first developed in 1922, while the list of strength or positive virtues was compiled in 2004, he added.

He said that some positive virtues of mind include wisdom, knowledge, creativity, courage, emotional strength, honesty, zeal and humanity.

He said: 'Religious influence has an important role in attitude and behavior of a human being. Clinical psychologists were not traditionally concerned with promotion of wellbeing of the people but alleviation of disorders, however, now a day the emphasis has been shifted towards improving wellbeing. We need to move away from medical model to a more humanistic person centered approach.'

Dean JPMC Karachi Professor Dr Iqbal Afridi said that there is no health without mental health. Good mental health is also more than just the absence of a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder etc.

'A person who is mentally healthy has a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community,' Dr Afridi added.

University of Peshawar Psychology Department Head Professor Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) locals suffered a lot due to being close to Afghanistan.

People in the region had to absorb different shocks and reaction of the opposite forces in the shape of bomb blasts and later extremism.

After 2001 era, military operations in the region forced people in Swat and FATA to face internal dislocation/displacement.

The people were suffering from multiple psychological problems and were provided with psychological help by psychologists and some NGOs.

The most frequently reported cases were of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, etc, Dr Khan added.

Fatima Karim, Dr Sara Saeed Khurram and Dr Iffat Zafar Aga, University of Edinburg while presenting their paper said that Pakistan, a population of 182 million and one of the fastest growing economies of the world still struggles to provide basic healthcare to 51 per cent of its total population. Furthermore the situation is even worse in terms of mental health. According to latest statistics reported by Pakistan Psychological Association, there is an epidemic of mental illness as 40 per cent of the population suffers from mild to moderate level of neurotic disorders, specially generalized anxiety disorder.
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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 6, 2018
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