Leading the press conference, which was called in connection with the World Mental Health Day that falls on Oct 10, the president of the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH), Dr S. Haroon Ahmed, said that the global as well as local statistics related to mental health suggested development of mental healthcare facilities, ensuring an enabling environment for the citizens.
In Pakistan, there were four mental health hospitals in Hyderabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Mansehra with a total capacity of 3,000 beds, while small psychiatric units were attached to teaching hospitals and private psychiatric hospitals had a capacity of about 4,000 beds for patients reporting with mental disorders, he said. He lamented that there were only 419 psychiatrists in the country, concentrated mostly in urban areas, while there were no trained psychiatric nurses and community mental health workers. There had been a longstanding demand for a meaningful investment in the mental health sector, development of workforce and infrastructure, he said.
He said Pakistan also needed to invest to make the people aware of the prevalence of mental disorders and their impact on national productivity, creativity, entrepreneurship and personal development.
He said that the rate of stress and mental illness had increased the task of health policymakers, doctors and medical workers in their efforts, if any, towards mental approach, which were vital for a healthy society.
“We, under the banner of PAMH, have been contributing towards the redress of the problems of mental health in the country for the past 30 years, but have failed to get government support to establish a fully-fledged centre, which could have local need based programmes in the field of behavioral sciences and evolve community oriented, cost effective and culturally relevant programmes of treatment and aftercare of mentally ill patients.,” he added.
Dr M. Naim Siddiqui, the PAMH general secretary, said that the vulnerable people who were not able to manage their stress in a fast-changing world needed special attention.
Dr Badar Sabir Ali said that the prevalence of mental health disorder had increased immensely in Pakistan (30-60 per cent) and there was a dearth of trained physiatrists.
She further said that the WHO had estimated that depression was to reach the second position of disability adjusted life years lost and would be the second largest killer after the heart disease.
Dr Salamat Kamal announced that the PAMH was observing the Mental Health Day by holding a day-long seminar on Sunday at the PMA House.