Psychologists direly needed | By Muhammad Zahid Rifat

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Psychologists direly needed

PAKISTAN direly needs more and more psychologists as the country’s population continues to grow rapidly in an unabated manner, increasing number of people including women and children are suffering from mental health problems.

Pakistan’s population has already crossed figures of 220 million but has one of the poorest mental health indicators as only less than 500 psychologists/psychiatrists are there for the entire population.

Psychological problems in Pakistan are pretty widespread. According to one estimate, around 50 million people of all suffer from mental disorders.

A wide range of psychiatric disorders are generally reported such as depression, substance and alcohol use, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to another estimate, a large number of about 36 per cent of Pakistanis suffer from anxiety and depression, which is often caused by strained family and friend relations, the feeling of not fitting in the society, the unstable economic and political conditions of the country giving rise to unemployment and poverty.

It is generally said and believed that if a doctor/physician listens to his patient attentively, almost half of his pain due to disease is gone even before any formal treatment.

As a matter of fact, both psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to identify mental disorders and issues..

In the backdrop of this not so encouraging situation at all, it is good to note that people, particularly young women, are opting for studying and specializing in clinical psychology for treating their fellow countrymen of all ages and genders.

One such young woman is Zunaira Qayyum, whom this scribe came across recently and discussion briefly mentioned above took place, who emphatically stated that her childhood dream of becoming a successful girl in medical profession is one-half coming true as she is very close to the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist and next half of the dream will hopefully be accomplished when she becomes well-known all over Pakistan as an emphatic listener.

About her being an empathic listener, Zunaira Qayyum said,” I want to listen to my country’s sorrows and I really want to spend my life serving the people of Pakistan, every day I keep praying that the Almighty give me the courage to become a successful psychologist for the people who are suffering from any illness.

Zunaira Qayyum did her MSc Psychology from Government College for Women Gujranwala, studied hard for higher studies in Philosophy and is now specializing in Clinical Psychology and doing thesis work at the University of Lahore.

She says that her cherished goal in life is to become a leading psychologist, start private practice in Lahore and start taking patients as she has most skill for a therapist is also her best skill i.e. the power of listening.

She already has to her credit of working with the adult patients at the Punjab Institute of Mental Health and with autistic children at an international institution in Lahore.

As a young girl she had looked after her abnormal maternal aunt and on growing up she had decided to continue to help the people who are differently abled ,have different abilities and needs than most of us.

Zunaira Qayyum has got most inspiration from prominent Pakistani artist and social crusader Jimmy Engineer and wants to serve the people throughout life like him as it is an honour to be a servant of Pakistan.

Please join this scribe in wishing her becoming a leading clinical psychologist and serving the people of Pakistan selflessly and dedicatedly.

—The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan.