The initiative of International Federation for Mental Health and the United Nations, October 10 was designated in 1993as the day to highlight the importance of mental health and is being celebrated internationally ever since.

Every year a topic is selected related to mental health . Seminars, conferences are held in countries all over the world and those involved write articles in newspapers, magazines and periodicals.

For the year 2016, the subject selected is: ‘Dignity in Mental Health’. The very mention of mental health brings to minds an outstanding and epoch making personality whose efforts, endeavours, knowledge and perseverance pulled out the psychiatric treatment and mental health from the abyss of ignorance and taboo in Pakistani society and brought into limelight akin to the universal level of acceptance and enlightenment.

For his untiring devotion to science and his profession, the then President of Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Prof. Haroon Rashid Chaudhry, had in 2009 presented Professor IAK Tareen life time achievement award. Last year the British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association also presented him a similar award.

Achievements and awards are many to his credit and in recognition of his contribution a hall has been designated as ‘Tareen Hall’ in the Department of Psychiatry in King Edward Medical College / Mayo Hospital where the teaching and training programmes are now organised.

It is my pleasure and good fortune that for the last 40 years I have had the opportunity of closely knowing Dr Tareen. This goes back to the time when I was a student at KEMC. and Dr Tareen in those days was a professor and consultant psychiatrist involved in the teaching and training of students and junior doctors.

I had never dreamt in those days that this towering personality whom I was watching from a distance one day will become most important being in my life who I will get an opportunity to know and work with for years on end.

This relationship of student and teacher, spreading over several decades, continued to grow and flourish with the passage of time and became stronger and stronger with each passing day. To describe or circumscribe his personality as a teacher, a physician, a dedicated worker, his selfless services for mentally ill along with efforts for common good of the downtrodden is a tall order.

Even while a student, his untainted services, friendliness and perception of the needs of the needy had started manifest themselves which made him popular amongst his college fellows and teachers alike.

His popularity amongst students led to his election as President of the College Union. His constant endeavour to serve kept him busy in organizing, establishing and initiating activities in spite of adverse conditions and enabled him to introduce Lending Library for needy students.

Once in college magazine KEMCOL there was an article detailing his activities captioned “Service before self” highlighting his efforts. On becoming a full-fledged doctor for a while he worked at Mayo Hospital and later proceeded to Libya with a contingent of doctors sent there on the request of Libyan government. Next step was acquiring higher education in U.K. where he rose to the level of a consultant.

The desire to serve his country rather than the world at large brought him back to Pakistan. Providence had something greater and proverbial in store for him since he was destined to accomplish for his people, which probably no one else was qualified and capable of achieving.

He gave a new direction to psychiatric practice in Pakistan with focus on elevating plight of mentally sick who were treated with scorn and contempt even by their relatives. His untiring efforts in this field can be classified with achievements of William luke of U.K. Philippe Pinal of France and Benjamin Rush of USA.

An arduous and daunting task of giving new face to the Psychiatry and Mental illness started during 1970’s from Bahawalpur where he laid the foundation of department of psychiatry. This achievement was repeated in Multan and finally he got assigned to Lahore where he went into full gear, achieving the unachievable in spite of hurdles, resistance and restraints.

With undaunting will and untiring efforts he visualized, planned, organized and established “State of the Art” multipurpose psychiatric department on modern lines keeping in view the long term future needs.

Apart from providing treatment to mentally ill, young and old, a society for the welfare of the patients was brought into being thro.g which -ee :- were provided to the needy.

When the Government of Pakistan imposed restrictions on the sale and use of opium it was Dr. lareen’s pioneer and bold initiative in organizing and establishing a department catering to the treatment of addicts which was the first and largest in Pakistan. It was visited and highly praised by no less a person than Princess Diana when she came to Pakistan.

The story will remain incomplete unless there is mention of his wife and colleague Prof. Dr. Khalida lareen a staunch and unflinching supporter all along to his devotion to welfare and treatment of those in need and his busy schedule of teaching and instructions in K.E.M.C. and Mayo Hospital. Besides his professional and official activities he also in the capacity of Sports President oversaw sports activities for the students and gave his whole hearted support.

In his wide horizon of planning and achievements Dr. Tareen continued his efforts in planning a 10-year Scientific Research and Training Programme at par with modern and universal standard and laid guide lines for the yearly visitors of ex-students of K.E.M.C. from USA.

As Dean of the faculty of psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan he played a pivotal role in laying down a syllabus for Part-I and continued to remain examiner in psychiatry and Neurology. He is author of a large number of scientific papers and also published a book “Understanding Psychiatry” for the guidance of students of psychiatry reflecting his knowledge and experience in the said field.

His one of the outstanding contribution is the change in Lunacy Act 1912 when he was a technical advisor to the Government of Pakistan. In this regard he received enthusiastic help and support from his wife Dr.Khalida Tareen who at the time was the President of the Pakistan Psychiatric Society. With their efforts and support the Lunacy Act 1912 was changed with an Ordinance in 2001 and finally became Mental Health Law.

After retiring from Government service 16 years ago his services and devotion in the form of free clinic for the mentally ill have continued unabated to the extent that he has designated his property towards the betterment of those suffering from mental illness. I hope, wish and pray for him to succeed and flourish in untiring services in the cause of weak and needy and may God continue to bless him and bestow on him long and happy life, A’meenl I have no doubt in my mind that his untiring efforts to improve the plight of the mentally ill and his services to the poor and needy will be a guiding star for the generations of doctors and his name will serve as a landmark in the history of our country.

From Dr Maqsood Ahmed

(Senior Psychiatrist & Medical Director, Signet Health Care, U.K)