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October 9, 2017

Eminent psychiatrist says mental health getting attention

Peshawar

October 9, 2017

PESHAWAR: A distinguished psychiatrist Professor Dr Khalid Mufti has said the observance of the World Mental Health Day (October 10) over the years has promoted the concept of mental health among the masses instead of the mental illness, which has greatly benefited the affected people.

 “The World Health Organisation [WHO] has always marked the Mental Health Day with requisite attention. The very word,” mental illness” is considered a stigma in our society and leads to negative impression. We should be grateful to the WHO that calls for marking October 10 as World Mental Health Day with the objective to raise awareness about mental health issues and mobilizing efforts for supporting the mental health,” said Dr Khalid Mufti while talking to a group of journalists.

The day offers an opportunity for the stakeholders working on the mental health issues to share their work, and suggest more measures which need to be taken to make the mental health care a reality for people worldwide. The senior psychiatrist said that relevant departments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and psychiatrics were playing respective roles in various capacities as well for creating awareness about the mental health.

Dr Khalid Mufti said mental health was as important to the society as were other issues and this should be taken seriously for the greater good of the people. Talking of the rising incidence of depression, he said there was a need to treat depression instead of ignoring or hiding it as there was nothing embarrassing about the problem which was present in other regions of the world as well. “Almost 70 per cent our people have a host of worries.

Up to 30 per cent of the population is suffering from various types of depression. One percent has a severe kind of mental disorder such as schizophrenia. These are the diseases which warrant a serious consideration and long-term rehabilitation programme,” said the expert who did Diploma in Psychological Medicine (DPM) from England in 1974, became Member of Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRC Psych) 1975 United Kingdom, fellow of Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRC Psych) in 1989 and distinguished fellow of American Psychiatric Society 2010.

The known psychiatrist, who has served as principal of the prestigious Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, and member of Federal Mental Health Authority, government of Pakistan, believed that elderly people were being ignored in the society. “The lonely feelings were increasing among the senior citizens. There is a need for finding the ways on how to tackle their mental health problems,” he said, adding we should train people for that.

“The stakeholders such as relatives of the elderly people, psychologists, teachers, journalists and members of other sections of the society should be trained. The elderly people are required to be involved in various activities at a time when they are no longer considered productive, especially after their retirement. There is a need to take care of their mental health so that the old age-related worries don’t impact them negatively,” he explained.

Dr Khalid Mufti said the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) warrant due attention as they have been through a turbulent times.

 “There was a difficult phase when the tribal region and its population faced serious crisis. They were displaced from native areas and compelled to live as Internally Displaced Persons both in and off camps. Now most of them have returned to own areas after restoration of peace. But tangible steps are needed to rehabilitate them properly,” he pointed out.

 The senior psychiatrist said most of the tribal people had returned home and were trying to restart a new life but their psychological rehabilitation would take some time. “It is also important if we look at it in the light of the likely merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he went on to add. Dr Khalid Mufti said the government would have to evolve a policy to know well the tribal psychology.

“The policy makers must study the tribal customs and traditions and the ways they resolve their problems and issues through own set practices,” he added. The senior psychiatrist said the tribal people would need special attention during time to come. He said they would need more facilities in native areas to convince them that they had undergone a change for the better after mainstreaming.

“Now that when the change in Fata status is becoming imminent, be it in any form, there is a need to prepare groups from the educated lot of the tribal population to raise awareness among the population. Selection of groups and their training in enabling the general people to tackle the psychological challenges will be a good step,” he said, adding his organisation, Horizon, intended to arrange training courses after selecting the groups from journalists and teachers towards that end. When questioned about the mental health facilities in Fata, Dr Khalid Mufti said the Fata Health Secretariat should give more attention to the mental health in their programmes, which was minimal at present.

“The mental health is not getting enough attention presently in Fata. The focus is on medical health. There are some efforts at Parachinar in Kurram Agency but that work, too, is being done at the private level,” he hastened to add.

Dr Khalid Mufti was satisfied with the mental health legislation in the country over the past two decades and said psychiatrists must be given credit for that as well apart from the governments. He said bids to produce fitting mental health legislation led to the Mental Health Ordinance for the first time in year 2001.

However, he said, with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and devolution of health responsibilities to the provincial governments, it became the responsibility of the provinces to make suitable mental health laws through own assemblies. Dr Khalid Mufti said it was encouraging to note that mental health was getting the attention of the legislators as well. He said new laws were replacing the old and outdated ones, signifying the importance of the issue.

The distinguished psychiatrist said it was matter of relief as Senate Standing Committee on Interior on September 20, last month passed the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2017 which de-criminalised attempted-suicides. Under the law, those who attempted suicide would be treated as patients and provided the required interventions, instead of facing legal charges.

 He emphasised that attempted-suicide was primarily a medical issue and had already been de-criminalized in several countries. He said de-criminalizing the attempted-suicide was a big achievement of psychiatrists because they had been making efforts for such a law since long. It may mentioned here that Dr Khalid Mufti, is Chairman of Horizon, a welfare NGO for prevention, training, research in mental health and drug demand reduction), and Chief Executive & Medical Director of Ibadat Hospital. Horizon has been carrying out various activities since its launch in 1987.

It has been rendering treatment and rehabilitation services to the mentally ill and drug addicts. The organization has been imparting training to the professionals and volunteers to undertake services. Ibadat Hospital is a partner institution for provision of treatment and rehabilitation services to the drug dependents and the population facing mental health challenges.

The hospital was established in 1987 initially by simply upgrading a 10-bed day care center to a short day residential mental health care facility. The day care center along with out-patient consultation clinic was established in 1983.The center was run as part of community health as a coordinated activity involving mental health experts ,senior recovered patients ,key relatives, spiritual and religious advisors and family practitioners. Ibadat Hospital provides modern mental health, psychiatric and drug dependence treatment facilities.

The hospital aims at filling the gap of treatment for those in need of mental health, providing affordable treatment for, de-stigmatize mental illness and ensure treatment for low and poor income patients through financial relief.

 

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