HYDERABAD: Sindh Mental Health Authority chairman Senator Dr Karim Khawaja has said that access to mental health services and timely identification of suicidal tendencies can help prevent the growing incidence of suicide in society. Speaking at a seminar at the Department of Psychiatry, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro, on Thursday, Khuwaja said that the communities and the government should together focus on the prevention aspect in such cases.
He said that the ‘suicide prevention’ theme has been adopted for the World Mental Health Day 2019 to attract the attention of governments so that the issue may be prioritized in the public health agendas globally. “Although suicidal behaviour has existed throughout human history, it has of late reached an alarming level in the world.”
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LUMHS Professor of Psychiatry Dr Moin Ahmad Ansari said that suicide as a public health problem requires the attention of psychiatrists, organisations in the field of psychiatry as well as universities and the public at large. “It requires particular attention from the national health authorities since it’s their responsibility to prepare strategies to prevent suicide and promote the public’s mental health.”
He underlined that the role of the mass media and that of social media is no less significant in discouraging the people who are overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts and for promoting mental health.
At a separate seminar at Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Institute of Psychiatry (SCJIP), Hyderabad, the experts expressed the belief that reverting to the joint family system and good parenting can preempt the growth of suicidal tendencies.
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Senator Khuwaja said that only 140 psychiatrists are currently practising in Sindh, catering to a vast and ever-increasing number of mental health patients.
“There are no psychiatrists in 19 districts of Sindh and there are only six psychiatric wards in the province including four in Karachi and one each in Hyderabad and Larkana.”
He said that the authority is making efforts to train 10,000 medical practitioners in seven basic mental illnesses over the next two years. The senator added that the authority will also provide training to lady health workers, civil society activists and around 600 judges of the courts of law regarding handling the suicide cases.
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Prof Dr Syed Jamil Hussain, chairman of the faculty of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Indus Medical College, Tando Mohammad Khan district, suggested the people develop the habit of reading to prevent negativity of thoughts.
SCJIP medical superintendent Dr Aijaz Qadir Patoli stressed the need for promoting the joint family system. “Parents ought to spend time with their children and they have to figure out their mental approaches.”
According to him, a significant fraction of the youth is vulnerable to serious mental illnesses. “Around 40% of school-going children in private schools are falling prey to mental ailments for want of trained teachers in Karachi,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2019.
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