KARACHI – Renowned psychiatrist and head of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s (JPMC) Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department, Prof Dr M Iqbal Afridi said here on Thursday that an estimated 34 per cent population of Pakistan was suffering from depression and anxiety.
He gave these statistics while addressing a press conference on the theme of “Dignity in Mental Health” in connection of World Mental Health Day 2015 being observed across the world on Oct 10.
He said cases of psychological or behavioral disorders have been increasing day by day in South Asian region, including Pakistan, due to socio-economic changes in the past few years. He said mental health is as important as physical health for an overall well-being of individuals, societies and countries.
He said various mental diseases had gone up sharply in our region due to man-made disasters, natural disasters and other reasons. He said depression and anxiety are the major mental diseases which are common in our society.
He said as per research, about 250 million people are living with psychological or behavioral disorders across the world, while 90pc of such patients remain untreated in under-developed countries.
He said only one per cent world population is suffering from schizophrenia, a common genetic psychological disorder. He said health is not complete without the component of mental health that is, in fact, the social capital as there is no health without mental health.
He said misconception about mental illnesses, like possession by supernatural power and their life-long course, has stigmatized not only the mental health sufferers and their care-giver, but also the mental health professionals. He said psychiatric patients are emotionally and physically violated, they are thought of as perpetrator of violence, while they are the victims as evident from researches.
Dr Afridi said in our part of world where people are deprived of their basic human rights, the provision of respect is a legal, social and moral obligation therefore; we endorse this year’s very much needed and appropriate theme i.e. ‘dignity in mental health’.
He said 600 psychiatrists are not enough for 200 million population of the country, while there is acute shortage of social workers, psychiatrists nursing staff and paramedics in the country. He said there is an urgent need to increase public awareness, ensuring human rights-oriented health polices in order to safeguard the rights of the patients and give a fair chance at a dignified life.
He said mental disorders are common but treatable. He said people should maintain a balance in life, and give proper attention to sleep, work, prayers, exercise and diet in order to prevent from psychological or behavioral disorders.