FAISALABAD: Despite the progress the academia has made in the field of psychology in Pakistan, practical implementation and practice of psychology and psychiatry, the two falling under the same domain, are yet to pave out their positions among other commonly practised medical fields. Mental illness and disorders, let alone its treatment continue to face the stigma of being a gender-specific work field mostly chosen by females.
Moreover, psychiatric consultation or treatment offered by private practitioners and rehabilitation clinics is certainly out of the reach of poor or working middle-class households. As a result, while the government hospitals and clinics are up to no good, populace from the urban slums seeks treatment and relief in spiritual rituals which often turns out to be quite hazardous.
As per the findings of a research study conducted last year, there are only 400 trained psychiatrist in Pakistan to cater to a rapidly growing population, of which 50m Pakistanis have been diagnosed with a category of mental illness. While the importance of a medical treatment to mental dysfunction cannot be downplayed, social acceptance of such patients and laying-off the stigmas and taboos attached is equally important. Social institutions like family, education and media must play their role in promoting positive acceptance of such individuals, given the fact that within the next few years mental illnesses and disorders are likely to increase manifold.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2017.