President for integrated & effective awareness campaign on mental health

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24 million people in Pakistan are in need of psychiatric assistance

Zubair Qureshi

President Dr Arif Alvi has called for a well-integrated and effective awareness campaign about mental health and to reduce the stigma against mental illnesses. The president expressed these views during a meeting on mental health, held at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

The president was of the view that efforts to strengthen existing infrastructure and awareness should further be augmented using online mental health portals, virtual programs, Artificial Intelligence, Mental Health Chatbots, helplines, mobilizing relevant government and other stakeholders, and forging public-private partnerships.

Dr Irfan Mustafa, Chief Executive Officer of Taskeen Health Initiative, a non-profit organization working for the promotion of well-being and prevention of mental illness in Pakistan briefed the president about various projects undertaken by his organization.

During the meeting, the president said there were more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, including behavioural or emotional disorders, behavioural or emotional disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia etc, which if diagnosed and managed at an early stage could be cured in a cost-effective manner or incurring no cost at all.The president noted with concern that mental disorders accounted for more than 4% of the total disease burden with the mental health burden higher among women. He added that there were an estimated 24 million people in Pakistan who were in need of psychiatric assistance but unfortunately Pakistan only had 0.19 psychiatrists per 100,000 people.

The president stated that there was a need to launch a national mental health care plan which may include public awareness campaigns, a national mental health helpline, integration of mental health in basic health units, training of primary healthcare workers, and upscaling of existing programs through public-private partnerships.

The President said that dissemination of mental health-related information to the general public through Ulema and Pesh Imams and mosques will help in breaking the taboos attached to mental health.

The president said that due to the concerted efforts and leadership provided by the First lady Ms Samina Alvi, they had succeeded in creating a fully integrated breast cancer awareness ecosystem, therefore the lesson learned from the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Polio Campaign and COVID-19 strategy could also be used to strengthen and fortify the campaign for creating awareness about mental health.

 

 

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