KARACHI: Around 50 million people are suffering from common mental disorders in Pakistan. The illness afflicts 15 to 35 million adults, which is about 10 to 20 per cent of the population.

“Approximately 20 million children or 10pc of the population in our country need attention from mental health practitioners,” said Dr Ayesha Mian, chairperson of the department of psychiatry at the Aga Khan University (AKU) at a dialogue held on mental health at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday.

The session was organised in connection with World Mental Health Day being observed on Oct 10.

Dr Mian said there was a perception that people with mental illness were violent, looked different from others, and could never get better or could not be productive members of society.

“Such misleading stereotypes impact adversely on these people’s struggle to cope with their condition.”

“Studies show that people with mental illness are much more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator. Media should come forward and be strong partners against this social bias,” she said. She said family members, friends and the society in general had a vital role to play in helping people recover from mental illness. They needed positive attitude and acceptance of their conditions.

“Unfortunately, there are only 400 trained psychiatrists in the country.”

Published in Dawn October 9th, 2016