Awareness regarding mental health has always been a perpetual spar in a country where psychiatric resources and services are available in a confined manner. In underdeveloped countries such as Pakistan, People do find themselves inefficacious when the time comes to face the stressors like rising inflation and unemployment, erratic gas supplies, load shedding, political uncertainty, infringement of law and order, and most importantly the social stigma and lockdown effects brought about by the second wave of Covid-19.
Owing to the above factors, mental disorders mainly depression, anxiety, and stress (DAS) are increasing at a considerable rate. Keeping the increasing suicide rate in view, it would not be futile to call mental illness, a time bomb that will clutch many innocent lives with it when it explodes.
Alarmingly in Pakistan, the rate of depression is four times higher than the rate in the rest of the world. Despite the increased rates, we are still unschooled about the issues associated with mental health
Recently, January has been declared by The Pakistan Association of Mental Health (PAMH), a month dedicated to scoring out the long-standing stigma associated with mental health. PAMH has also attempted to run a series of seminars on emotional regulation, stress, and anger management in the city of lights, Karachi.
According to Dr. S. Haroon Ahmad, a senior Karachi-based psychiatrist, Karachi`s stress-ridden environment has a death-dealing impact on the lives of individuals and the community as well. He says that Targeted killings, sexual offences including rape, barbarous and homicidal acts against young children, street offences are playing havoc with the mental health of our people. He further goes on to emphasize that around 60 percent of depression is biological – meaning thereby that there is an involvement of brain chemistry in causing the most common mental illness i.e. depression.
There are several avoidable stressors for which the state has to take responsibility. For example; Provision of basic amenities such as genuine medicines, clean water, unadulterated food, building the blocks of a hygienic and secure environment would ease the burden of private individuals and thus this would make the world, a healthier place to live.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression will outrank cardiac disease, blood pressure, cancer and will become one the prevalent disease in the world by 2030. Studies have shown that children brought up by mothers fighting with depression are at a high risk of developing cognitive defects.
At this point in time, we all must realize our obligation to spread the message that mental illnesses can be treated and ensure that the patients do not suffer alone. They do not have to be racked in pain. We must not recognize depression as a weakness in character.
It is the time to speak up on these issues and erase the societal stigma. We must take this issue seriously otherwise the impending catastrophic consequences will steal away the productive and innovative potential of our workforce and will largely disrupt the very fabric of the society in which we live.