PESHAWAR -  Psychiatrists have demanded of the provincial government to ensure adequate increase in the health budget aimed to address mental health issues and other fatal diseases.

They also called to set-up special mental health treatment facility in the province.

Addressing a news conference in connection with International Mental Health Day on Saturday here at press club, Head of Psychiatry Department Khyber Medical College (KMC) and Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar, Prof Dr Sayd Muhammad Sultan said that mental health is not supposed to be a major disease, but it could be prevented by proper and timely diagnose and treatment.

He said that severe anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsion disorder, phobia, and drug abuse are major causes of mental disturbance and distortion.

He informed that pre and post pregnancy complications, domestic problems, violence, weak family system, and lack of awareness are also reasons behind the growing mental health issues among women as well as in children.

Flanked by Registrar Psychiatry department, Dr Imran Khan, Dr Robina, and Dr Sher Ayub, Dr Sultan said that developed countries have prioritized health sector and allocated from 30 to 35 per cent of the total budget. However, he said, “Our country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in particular have allocated only 2 per cent of the total annual fiscal budget for health sector, out of which less than one per cent is for addressing mental health issues.”

He called upon the government to give special attention towards the diseases which were being caused mental health issues and make appropriate increase in the health budget.

Dr Sultan, who is also President of Pakistan Psychiatric Society and President of SAARC Psychiatric society, expressed concern over the deficiency of physicians to combat with these diseases.  He informed that currently 400 to 450 psychiatrists are for the total population of the country, ratio of one psychologist is for 10000 patients, adding no proper facilities were available for treatment of mental health patients at major hospitals in the province.

According to a rough estimate, he revealed approximately seven million people with a ratio of 33 per cent were suffering with mental anxiety and depression across the country. He also informed that children and old-age people were also suffering from the disease, as senior citizens above age of 65 years mostly lose memory, which is called dementia, with a ratio of five per cent, which is penetrating with growing age.