Wednesday October 20, 2021

World Mental Health Day: Pakistan lacks services of trained psychiatrists for youth

October 11, 2018

Rawalpindi: Not a single public sector hospital in Pakistan has services of child psychiatrist available to serve child population despite the fact that one in every four children experiences a significant traumatic event before reaching adulthood and the situation hints that a huge population of adolescents in the country has no access to treatment and management in case of falling prey to some mental illness.

According to health experts, a huge population in Pakistan is living with mental illness that remains undetected and untreated due to the absence of child psychiatrists while child sex abuse is still underreported in the country because of the stigma attached to it.

Pakistan has only four to five trained psychiatrists for treatment of adolescents suffering from mental illness including one in Karachi, two in Lahore and one in Rawalpindi, said Head of Institute of Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Training and Research at Rawalpindi Medical University Dr. Asad Tamizuddin Nizami while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Mental Health Day observed on Wednesday around the globe.

World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October every year with a vision of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and year’s theme is ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’.

According to Dr. Nizami, the main focus of the psychiatrists in Pakistan should be the changing world for adolescents in which the online technologies have changed the social structure bringing additional pressures on young people. We should work to retain the social bondages and connectivity in the family and community, he said.

Studies reveal that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 and in most of the undetected and unreported cases, like that in Pakistan, the result is depression and that is why suicide is one of the leading causes of death among population between the age of 15 and 29.

It is evident from reported cases that the use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries including Pakistan and according to health experts, the situation may lead to risky behaviours such as suicidal tendency, unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Experts say that the undetected mental illness is the cause behind a number of cases of eating disorders among adolescents and the situation is of great concern.

Most of our relations have become ‘electronic’ causing damage to our social mechanism and it is putting extra burden on the young generation, said Dr. Nizami.

He said the Institute of Psychiatry is holding a symposium on October 12, tomorrow to discuss issues relating to mental illness among youth and their solution. A mental health awareness walk has also been planned along with the symposium, he said.