According to recent research, more than half of the population of Pakistan is struggling with mental health issues. However, only less than quarter of those affected receive treatment. It is often because of the stigma attached to mental health that individuals refrain from coming forward or seeking medical treatment. The bottom line is that people are afraid to share their feelings and express their state of depression because they think they will be treated as psychotic patient by friends and family members. A person struggling mentally should receive the same concern and help as that of a person with a more obvious ‘physical’ illness. Although, the general perception regarding mental health has improved in cities over past decades, majority of people in rural areas are unaware of the issue. Overall, though, there is a lack of professional therapists and doctors to lend a hand in combating the crisis.
It is time for the government to act fast, or Pakistan will soon witness a surge in suicide cases. Awareness campaigns should be held in both urban cities and rural areas in order to normalise the idea of mental health. Furthermore, the authorities concerned need to introduce the subject in schools and colleges across Pakistan so that the patients don’t shy away from seeking treatment. The more acceptance there is, the healthier the nation will become.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2021.