KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar marking World Mental Health Day on Sunday discussed mental health at workplace and called upon authorities concerned and stakeholders to improve conditions at workplaces in the country as at present the bad working conditions putting workers under huge mental stress.

Titled “Mental health in the workplace”, the seminar was organised by the Pakistan Association for Mental Health [PAMH] at the Jinnah Medical and Dental College.

Dr Uzma Ambareen, vice president of the PAMH welcomed the guests and introduced the gathering to the theme of the year.

Prof Razaur Rehman, chairman, department of psychiatry, Dow University of Health Sciences, spoke about a survey conducted on the national psychiatric morbidity.

He said at least one-third of the lifetime of a Pakistani factory worker and office staffer was spent in the workplace, which was highly crucial in affecting the overall life of that person.

“The workplace experience impacts overall well-being,” he said.

Speakers said stress at workplaces was highly important for the physical health of workers.

Generally, they added, the environment of workplaces in the country was taxing a lot and needed to be changed.

Karamat Ali, director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Edu­cation spoke on security and stress at workplace of factory workers.

He said more than 90 per cent of the workforce in Pakistan was employed with informal sector, where they faced extreme insecurity and all forms of exploitation.

Fareiha Aziz from Bolo Bhi spoke vis-a-vis the abuse and harassment of women at workplace.

She discussed the issue of victim blaming and victim shaming, which, she added, often discouraged women from their ambition to be independent members of the society.

Prof Iqbal Afridi, head of department of psychiatry, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, spoke over innovations in the fields of general health and mental health.

He said the last 200 years of medical innovation had been highly productive than the rest of the recorded history.

He said a state of mental wellness included a sense of meaning and purpose in life, ability to deal with life events, and ability to make responsible decisions.

According to him the future treatment would be based on psycho-genetics.

Senator Karim Khwaja, also a qualified consultant psychiatrist, discussed the law on attempted suicide, which had been in effect since 1860 until last year.

Mr Mehtab S Karim, vice chancellor of the Malir University of Science and Technology, discussed findings of a morbidity survey conducted recently in Karachi, where 50pc of the population reported at least four symptoms of mental disorders.

Besides, he said, the survey showed at least 67pc of people had reported symptoms of depression.

Brig Dr Shoaib Ahmed said stress at workplaces needed to be addressed by teaching employees how to manage their reactivity, and improve their communication skills.

Dr Aneel Kumar, assistant professor, Jinnah Medical and Dental College, and Shoaib Ahmed, a psychologist, presented an exercise to manage stress with a group of medical students.

Prof S Haroon Ahmed, president, PAMH, launched a book published by the PAMH, which recorded the struggle of the organisation over the past 50 years.

Dr Heeralal Lohano, general secretary, PAMH, thanked the speakers and participants.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2017