Session on mental health capacity building



Mental illnesses have reached a significantly higher level in Pakistan as it affects millions with a shortage of mental health practitioners. In 2017, a total of 970 million which makes up 13% of the global population suffered from any mental or substance use disorder with anxiety and depression being the most prevalent.

The global data sources report the prevalence of depression and anxiety in the Pakistani population to be 4.1% and 3.6%; however, the local studies suggest this number be much higher with anxiety and depression affecting 34% of the population.

These views were shared by experts at a workshop organized for Mental Health Capacity Building of general physicians by the Dow University of Health Sciences in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Karachi, and Martin Dow Marker Ltd today at Arena Karsaz Karachi.

This session was part of a series of capacity-building sessions to be held throughout the province of Sindh to strengthen mental health knowledge and skills among primary care providers to address the prevalent mental health disorders in the communities.

The experts in the session included Prof Kashif Shafique (Principal School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences), Prof. Muhammad Iqbal Afridi (Distinguished Meritorius Professor and Dean, CPSP), Dr. Chooni Lal (HOD Department of Psychiatry, JPMC), Dr. Jawed Akbar Dars( Assistant Professor, JPMC), Dr. Washdev ( Assistant Professor, DUHS), and Dr. Fatima Taufique (Consultant Psychiatrist, JPMC). Prof. Kashif said that the risk factors for mental health disorders affect individuals before their conception and throughout their lifespan. Mental illness prevention remains a neglected public health challenge.

The disease burden due to Mental and substance use disorders is forecasted to increase by 74% by 2050: therefore, increased investment is needed at every step to tackle this foreseeable public health challenge.

Prof Iqbal Afridi taught the general physicians about the management of anxiety disorders in the community and said that general physicians should screen their patients for anxiety who could present to clinics with variable presentation ranging from common symptoms such as tachycardia (fast heartbeat), irritability, excessive worrying to less common symptoms.


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