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ISLAMABAD, July 30: The professionals including pediatricians and psychiatrists lack proper training to deal with children suffering from mental distress due to terrorism, natural calamity, sexual abuse, kidnapping, harassment etc.

The speakers expressed these views at a workshop titled, ‘Developing critical thinking skills amongst professionals working with children and young people,’ organised by Child First, an NGO, at a local hotel on Saturday. They highlighted that Pakistan had no record of the children suffering from mental distress due to terrorism, flood, earthquake, trafficking, sexual abuse, etc.

Addressing the workshop, Andrew Robert Duggan, who is currently pursuing his PhD in Child Resiliency in University of Huddersfield, UK, said that according to a questionnaire sent to the hospitals in Lahore, 90 per cent pediatricians said they had no formal training regarding the child mental health while only 16 per cent reported to have proper training and awareness in this regard.

He said that 90 per cent reported that they had no awareness about the international classification system regarding child mental health and 79 per cent referred to the social and family problems that impeded in diagnosing the children psychologically in case of any distress as it was considered a stigma.

It was highlighted in the session that about 71 per cent of the people reported that they had no awareness about the national guidelines regarding the child protection issues.

The session was told that the child mental health was one of the key areas according to the National Health Strategy yet there was no database or research available on the subject.

While telling the participants how to deal with such cases, Mr Andrew said a collaborative relationship was necessary for the treatment of a child by discussing his problems.