The need for a comprehensive strategy to address the growing challenge of mental health issues in the country, said President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday while chairing a follow-up meeting on mental health at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Tuesday.
The president called for taking collective measures and adopting an integrated approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, NGOs, psychiatric associations, and civil society to overcome the mental health burden in Pakistan.
Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit Prime Minister’s Office Chairman Hussain Islam and representatives of various organisations working on mental health, including the Pakistan Psychological Association (PPA), Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS), the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), Taskeen Health Initiative, Pakistani American Psychiatric Association of North America (PAPANA), and British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association (BAPPA) through video link.
During the meeting, the president highlighted that mental health was a major concern, demanding a coordinated approach from all involved parties. He said that around 24% of the country’s population was facing various mental health issues and 60% of college and university students were under stress. He said that this situation needed the immediate attention of the government, healthcare professionals, civil society organisations, and the media.
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The president called for concise and impactful messaging to create awareness about mental health issues by drawing upon the lessons learnt from the successful campaigns on COVID-19 and breast cancer. He said that coordinated efforts were needed to overcome the social stigmas and taboos attached to mental health issues in Pakistan.
He also underscored the need for increasing the number of mental health professionals, besides taking steps for the capacity building of human resources to provide quality counselling and assistance to people. He further stated that such initiatives should be supported and sustained in future by the successive governments.
The president also lauded the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between an international NGO and a private media group.
The meeting also discussed the formation of a committee under the Chairman of Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit Prime Minister’s Office to further bolster the effectiveness of the ‘Humraaz App’ geared towards mental health assistance and awareness.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th2023.