ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan is home to about 200 million people, it has one of the poorest mental health indicators, with less than 500 psychiatrists for such a huge population size.

This creates a massive treatment gap, leaving more than 90pc of the people with common mental disorders untreated, said Special Secretary Health Mirza Nasiruddin Mashood Ahmed while speaking to participants of an event organised by the Department of Psychiatry of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) in connection with World Mental Health Day.

The theme of the day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health was ‘Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority’.

Mr Mashood said the day was observed on Oct 10 every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) shared that one in eight people worldwide live with a mental health issue.

“We learnt the lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic as no one worldwide was ready for the allied mental health crunch and its long-term impact on human brain. The current flood situation is a recent example, which means that any traumatic event can have a devastating effect on the emotional health of people involved. Such traumatic events may include the grief from losing a loved one, livelihood stresses like economising or other academic or career setbacks, health stresses from illnesses, or family/relationship stresses like a divorce, amongst others,” he said.

“There is growing awareness and concern about mental wellness in our society today. Thus, we need state-of-the-art strategies for mental health,” Mr Mashood said. Lastly, he announced the establishment of an Autism Treatment Centre and mental health helpline at Pims, which is an initiative by the Ministry of Health.

Earlier, in the opening remarks, Professor Rizwan Taj, chief executive officer Pims, said the goal was to rekindle efforts to increase awareness, improve mental health and reduce the stigma associated with it.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2022

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