PESHAWAR/SWAT: The World Mental Health Day was observed on Saturday with calls for people, particularly students, to consult psychologists to come out of stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A function was organised by the department of psychology in the Government Postgraduate Girls College, Saidu Sharif Swat, where the speakers, including psychologists and educationists, pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic had put negative impact on students’ learning capacity, but with few easy steps they could easily cope with the stress during the pandemic.

The speakers said Covid-19 had disrupted the education system throughout the world causing severe stress among students, especially females.

“We aim to rehabilitate those people who have been mentally affected by Covid-19, particularly students, by training them how to cope with the risky and challenging situation during the pandemic,” Uzma Ilyas, head of the psychology department, said, adding it was responsibility of psychologists to help students minimise stress.

College principal Nargis Ara said the Covid-19 pandemic had serious impact on women whether they were housewives, working women or students because a sense of fear engulfed them when coronavirus swept across the world.

“During the pandemics there is a high need of providing mental health support to women, not only inside houses but also to working women and students in educational institutes,” she said, adding the psychologists must identify the mentally-affected women and help them with mental health support.

Kayenat Rahim, a psychology student, said those students who did not have access to Internet were deprived of online education during the lockdown, and that was why they were stressed. “Students are in dire need of psychological support and this event proved very helpful for us,” she said.

Meanwhile, health experts at a seminar in Peshawar the other day said the number of people suffering from psychological disorders was increasing fast in the country but there were only 500 doctors for such patients.

The event was organised by the Pakistan Psychiatric Society at the Peshawar Press Club in connection with the World Mental Health Day to create public awareness of psychological problems. Dr Aziz Mohammad, Dr Mohammad Irfan, Dr Imran Khan and other speakers said most psychiatrists were based in major cities and therefore, the residents of rural areas didn’t have access to treatment by and large.

They said the country’s population was growing fast but there were almost no health facilities for the people with mental ailments.

The experts said hospitals at district levels had psychiatric wards but they lacked the required facilities.

They said majority of the people used traditional remedies to get relief from mental problems, especially depression and anxiety, instead of consulting specialists for one reason or the other.

The experts resented the growing number of drug addicts and said students of schools and universities, including girls, had begun using ice drug but there were no proper facilities for their early treatment.

They called for better public awareness of the harmful effects of drugs and said religious leaders, elders and media could play an effective role for the purpose.

Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, president Dr Mohammad Irfan said the people were badly hit by pandemic-induced lockdown and therefore, they required proper consultation.

Dr Aziz Mohammad of the Khyber Teaching Hospital said if the treatment of a person with psychological problems was delayed, the entire family could suffer. He called for the allocation of sufficient funds for the treatment of psychological problems.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2020