LAHORE: There is a dire need to expand the role of psychologists in the education and health sectors to change attitudes towards people suffering from mental health issues.
This was the crux of views expressed at the opening ceremony of the three-day International Conference on Health Psychology: Issues and Challenges, It was held at the Government College University (GCU) Lahore on Wednesday.
“Despite the realisation of overall unhealthy lifestyles, increasing ratio of chronic illnesses and escalating health care costs, the government is yet to focus on psychology which will help change human behaviour,” said GCU Phycology Department Chairperson Dr Syeda Shahida Batool.
She said that the role of psychologists in hospitals was not well-defined and sometimes confused.
Punjab Health Department Additional Secretary Adnan Zafar Khan stressed on expanding the role of psychology, saying there was a need to manage mental illnesses in the same way as cancer, arthritis, coronary heart disease, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.
Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raza Ali Gillani said psychology is a broad field which covers multiple issues related to social, emotional and physical well-being. He added it was the psychologists’ duty to reform society.
GCU Vice Chancellor Dr Hassan Amir Shah said the university had received more than 300 quantitative and qualitative research papers on coping with stress, heart diseases, hypertension, cancer, eating disorders, infertility, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, diabetics, burden of care and assessment issues in healthy psychology.
Dr Syed Ashiq Ali Shah from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University British Columbia in Canada highlighted the impact of psychosocial-cultural influences on physical and mental health. He said arrogance, prejudice, xenophobia, and aggression spread negativity, while gratitude, sincerity, love, and respect were the key to happiness.
Dr Barabara Keller from University of Bielefeld, Germany, said health was not just about the absence of disease, but the presence of mental well-being.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2017.