PESHAWAR: World Mental Health Day 2014 is being observed here on Thursday with the theme of “Living with Schizophrenia” a major mental illness, which affects the thinking, feelings and behavioral faculties of the individuals suffering this illness.
This was stated by Professor Dr Sayed Mohammad Sultan, head Department of Psychiatry, Khyber Medical College (KMC) and Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) Peshawar. He is also the president of Pakistan Psychiatric Society and SAARC Psychiatric Federation. He was flanked by Dr Bashir Ahmad, Psychiatrist, KTH, Peshawar.
Professor Dr Sayed Mohammad Sultan said that if the illness left untreated or even if treatment is delayed, schizophrenia can result in a major mental, social and occupational handicap, resulting in a tremendous amount of burden on the family and on the society.
The people with mental illness and their families are victims of domestic violence, abuse, discrimination and stigmatization. It is for this reason that World Health Organization (WHO) has dedicated this day to Schizophrenia to create robust awareness about the illness.
The senior psychiatrist said that in the country there is alarming increase in the incidence of mental illness due to a persistent wave of violence, political turmoil and frequent changes in the social fabric and family disintegration. As a result of this a range of psychiatric disorders have been reported such as depression, substance and alcohol misuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
WHO recently reported that one in four people meet criteria for psychiatric problem at some point in their lives.
He said that epidemiological studies carried out in Pakistan have shown that 34% of the general population suffers from anxiety and depression, in addition to 1% population suffering from schizophrenia.
The prevalence of severe mental retardation in children between 3 years and 9 years of age has been estimated at 0.5%.
Due to lack of facilities, shortage of mental health professionals and lack of awareness, majority do not receive treatment for mental illness.
He said that Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that there should be one psychiatrist for a population of 10,000. In Pakistan there about 400 psychiatrists and 3000 beds in state-run hospital.
As part of public awareness initiative, the Department of Psychiatry, KTH in collaboration with print and electronic media to increase awareness about psychiatric illness and encourage community participation in care of mentally ill people.
For bringing improvement in psychiatric services, Pakistan Psychiatric Society recommended the provision of psychiatric services not only at district and tehsil level but to incorporate psychiatric services in the primary health care as well.
The society has also demanded the implementation of Mental Health Act in its true spirit to facilitate and help psychiatric patients, establishment of sub-specialties of child psychiatry, old age psychiatry
and forensic psychiatry.
The society also called for the introducing of evaluation system of behavioural sciences and clinical psychiatry in all medical and dental colleges of the province.