Asrar’s Note. October 10 was observed as the Mental Health Day all over the world. Our regular contributor Mr. Hasan Jamal has contributed this post on this very important topic. I would like to present it as a special post. The topic of Business Development will continue next week.
Pakistan like the whole world celebrated WMHD on 10th of October. This was initiated by World Federation for Mental Health in 1992.
Every year there is a specific theme. This year the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is focusing the 2018 WMH DAY campaign on our youth and as such the theme this year is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”
The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
In modern times our youth is growing up in a very hostile environment and are constantly battling the effects of human rights violations, wars, and violence at homes, schools and businesses. Young people are spending most of their day on the internet – experiencing cyber-crimes, cyber-bullying, and playing violent video games.
Youth are feeling lonely, ignored and persecuted for being true to themselves and young adults are at the age when serious mental illnesses can occur and yet they are taught little to nothing about mental illness and well-being.
I selected this topic for the reason that mental health issues in young population are burgeoning at an alarming speed and to spread awareness and save our future generation from this uncontrollable monster of dreaded mental ailments, is the moral duty of each one of us. We should discuss ways and means to avert this malaise not only at our homes but everywhere we have an access to.
World Mental Health Day is observed every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. In modern times despite the advancement in technology through which lot of knowledge and awareness is easily accessible, ironically, young population is confronted with multiple mental health issues.
When we think of a young male or female the immediate impression that develops in our minds is of energy, cheerfulness, smartness, strong nerves, sharp, audacious and determined to take up challenges etc. But on the contrary a huge number of youth has become a problem for society, and the number is growing relentlessly. Suicide and substance abuse incidences are steadily rising.
Pakistan is among those countries of the world which according to a report by UNPF (United Nations Population Fund) consists of 63% of youth (14 –30 years) of the total population.
WHO (World Health Organization) gives some horrendous figures about mental health issues and suicidal tendencies in young people. The statistics show that 800,000 people predominantly young male and female (age 15 –29) are committing suicide every year and the numbers are growing at an alarming pace.
Mental health is a gauge through which the potential of a society is measured. This potential is to be used to strengthen the social fabric which ultimately has to be translated into progress and prosperity for any country and the world at large. Obviously if the mental health is affected then the whole cycle of progress is jeopardized.
According to a research paper by Dr. Ghulam Rasool, Professor at Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Psychology – Bolan Medical College – Quetta, in Pakistan mostly the suicide is committed by the young people between the ages of 18 to 35 years.
In Chitral, a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which otherwise, is replete with natural beauty, greenery and healthy climate, 30 cases of suicide (age 18 -29) have been reported in the last few months. According to Jang correspondent the literacy rate here is above 80%. Mostly the reasons are ascribed to low marks in examination, mental pressures, financial difficulties and mismatched marriages.
Suicide is the worst stage of depression and as per the research paper due to the juggernaut of technology and its uncontrolled use, this tendency is increasing for these reasons:
- Technology has changed the basics of our moral values.
- It has changed the trajectory of family life. Within one house family lives like strangers.
- Verbal communication within the family has reduced greatly.
- One on one personal relation has been badly affected, and the relations are maintained through WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages.
- Our youth is so deeply involved with smart phones, tablets, IPods and laptops that even sitting in their own house they are mostly unaware of their surroundings.
- Physical activities and field games have been replaced by video games.
- Applications like Blue Whale and Momo Challenge are promoting suicidal tendencies.
All the above problems and many other dreaded effects of over use of technology has resulted in issues like Insomnia, anger, depression, loneliness etc. Many youth are becoming nerve wreck and ultimately ending-up with serious psychiatric ailments, which if not addressed timely can result into something disastrous.
Parents are also responsible for such tendencies in their children. Some parents are too busy in their own social activities and therefore, give less or hardly any time to their children who are left at the mercy of maids, which I consider to be the worst part of bringing-up at that sensitive age. The children of such parents are more vulnerable to mental health issues and psychiatric disorders and are more likely to go astray.
Unfortunately our youth is getting far away from healthy physical activities and being exposed to mental health problems, is one thing. But the other factor which is compounding the problem is terribly low number of psychiatrists and neurologists available in the country. According to the statistics there are only 700 specialists available in Pakistan for the population of 200 million (psychiatrists 500 and neurologists 200).This means for every 250,000 persons there is only one specialist available, and that too is confined to major cities.
This is high time now that the parents, the adults in the family and even teachers should sense these pernicious tendencies in our youth. Parents should never ignore any change in the behavior of their children and immediately address if anything awry is noticed. They should consciously and by program educate and to some extent assertively persuade our children to:
- Go out for regular walk and jogging.
- Take up some physical exercise or game on regular basis like cricket, hockey, squash football, cycling, swimming or light body building.
- Keep the objects like smart phones, tablets, laptops etc, away for some time and have face-to-face chat with the family members.
- Talk and discuss something with each other.
- Take balanced and healthy diet preferably at home. Avoid junk food and reduce eating- out habits.
- Go out with friends for expeditions, hitch hiking and to healthy picnic spots, but keep safe and no un-necessary risks to be taken.
- Give-up smoking and other habit forming drugs.
- Get involved in social service activities.
- Regular prayers are to be adopted.
- Reading books, magazines and other activities like stamp and coin collection should be adopted.
- Avoid late night chats and take good sleep.
- Habit of early to bed and early to rise should to be fostered right from the child hood.
Experts recommend that we should be watchful for our and our children’s general health. Care should be taken and regular medical checkup is needed for heart, diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and obesity. Anything which is good for heart is good for brain.
In the event of any problem, unfortunately, a sizable majority of our population gets embroiled into superstitions like evil spirits or someone jealous has thrown magical spells on them. This is all waste of time and there is a dire need to consult your doctor immediately. Avoid delays and do not allow this malaise to become chronic and untreatable.
This year emphasis needs to be placed on our young people. It is time to take a stand and demand more for this vulnerable population – our future depends on it.
Attention needs to be drawn on mental health issues that our youth and young adults are facing in our society today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.