KARACHI - Economic uncertainty is a leading cause of mental illnesses. The government is least interested in doing anything over the issue. There are no figures to maintain data of patients suffering from different kinds of mental health disorders.

Dr Beenish Shoro, head of Psychiatric department, Sindh government hospital, Liaqatbad said that while talking to The Nation on Wednesday.

“Pakistanis face unemployment, job insecurity and other social pressures. There is a need for a complete social transformation in society,” she added.

With an aim to raise awareness about mental health issues, World Mental Health Day has been observed across the world on Wednesday. The day is observed on October 10, every year and this year’s theme “Young People and mental health in a changing world.”

“Research tells us that many other factors contribute to the onset of depression, including genetics, changes in hormone levels, medical conditions, stress, grief or difficult living circumstances,” she said. “Past physical, sexual or emotional abuse increases the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.”

Meanwhile, noted neuro physician Dr Fowzia Siddiqui has said that healthy mind means a healthy society and we should work on individual and collective levels to build a healthier society for our coming generations.

She was speaking at a program related to the World Health Day here, organised by the Augosh Trust and Essa Laboratories. She said the day of October 10th is observed as the world mental health day in whole world and this day gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to and highlight mental health and wellbeing issues where we work, rest and play.

Dr Fowzia said the mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

She said that a quarter of the population will struggle with mental health this year – that’s roughly one in four people you’ll see today. If someone is acting differently or appears to be struggling then reach out, ask how they are and listen without judging. Being able to talk to somebody can make a big difference. The concepts of jinn and black magic, etc, have deterred people from seeking specialized care. Public awareness is much needed and we need to act fast to prevent society from self-destruction.

Dr Fowzia said with this increasing problem my message to our people is to rebuild family and friend support. “Remembering you are not alone is vitally important. Your mental health is not something to be ashamed about to seek help. You control you, and sometimes you need help finding that inner control again and that is more important than any drug. Medicines will only help if you are motivated to look into your inner self.

She requested the government to give special focus to the mental health of citizens. She said the medicines to treat mental illness should be subsidized and more departments should be opened for mental health patients in major public sector hospital. She said our general and medical universities should offer more programs in psychology, clinical psychology, neurology and psychiatry to produce more mental health experts so as to cater the needs of one-fourth of our population.