LAHORE: With an aim to raise awareness about mental health issues, World Mental Health Day is being observed across the world on Tuesday (today).

The day is observed on October 10, every year and this year’s theme is mental health in the workplace. A number of seminars and walks are being organised in connection with the day in the city today.

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Professor Zakria Zakar, who is the dean of faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences at the Punjab University, while talking to The Express Tribune, said that despite the fact that mental health illness was beyond the control of an individual, it is still considered as a stigma or a punishment for sin.

The professor said mental health has never been the priority of the government. As a result, citizens are unaware about psychological ailments and don’t seek professional help, he added. “The government should pay attention to creating job opportunities because economics prosperity and jobs can help overcome mental illnesses,” he said.

A former office bearer of the Young Doctors Association, Dr Valeed Khan, said that people mostly suffered from depression due to bad economic conditions, joblessness and domestic violence.

“Economic uncertainty is a leading cause of mental illnesses. The government health department is least interested in doing anything over the issue. There are no figures to maintain data of patients suffering from different kinds of mental health disorders,” he pointed out.

“Pakistanis face unemployment, job insecurity and other social pressures. There is a need for a complete social transformation in society,” he added.

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Dr Noman Mazhar, who works as a physiatrist at the Mayo Hospital, said depression is more than just feeling down. It is a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry,” he added.

“Research tells us that many other factors contribute to the onset of depression, including genetics, changes in hormone levels, medical conditions, stress, grief or difficult living circumstances,” he said. “Past physical, sexual or emotional abuse increases the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.”

He added that sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, may increase the risk of depression while even happy moments such as a new job, graduation or getting married can lead to depression.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2017.