President Dr Arif Alvi Friday called for making collective efforts for prevention and treatment of mental health disorders in the country as it was one of the most neglected fields in Pakistan. He added that 24% of the population in Pakistan was under mental stress and anxiety according to a survey conducted by the National Commission for Human Rights in August 2022.
The President stated that 60-80% of the college students were under stress, which was a major concern that needed to be addressed by providing counselling and guidance to college students. He further said that the Government was developing a helpline to advise and educate the people about the issues related to mental health and well-being. These views were expressed by him while chairing a virtual meeting on mental health, at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust (BAT), Mr Richard Hawkes, and Chair of the British-Pakistani Psychiatrists Association (BPPA), Dr Shahid Latif, joined the meeting via video link. The representatives of the Caretech Charitable Foundation, Global Institute of Human Development, and members of the British-Pakistani Psychiatric Association and Pakistani diaspora in the UK also participated in the meeting virtually.
Addressing the participants, President Dr Arif Alvi highlighted the need for collaborative networking between mental health professionals working in and outside Pakistan as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to increase the accessibility and affordability of mental healthcare in Pakistan. He regretted that due to the acute shortage of mental health professionals and lack of resources and awareness about mental disorders in Pakistan, the majority of psychiatric patients either went untreated or consulted traditional faith and religious healers.
He said that there were almost 2000 mental health professionals in Pakistan who were unable to provide proper treatment and counselling to 24% of the population suffering from some form of mental issue.