If the plight of the patients suffering from different diseases is bad, the mentally ill patients are in worst pickle in our country. How disparaging it is that different governments since Pakistan came into being have given a tinker's cuss to the health issue of mentally unhealthy people. It is sufficient enough to stir one's stump and bile to know that there is only one psychiatrist for every 12000 persons and there are merely four worth mentioning hospitals to treat mental disorders in whole of the country. On the other hand, the number of mentally ill is galloping with a horrifying rate. Almost 1000 people commit suicides due to various psychosomatic diseases each year in our country. It is really bewildering that even many educated people think that the body and the mind are two separate units. Still many of us firmly but wrongly believe that there is no cure to mind diseases. Majority of the mentally ill are suffering from schizophrenia in our country. One suffering from this disorder believes that he is being persecuted and hears voices which say objectionable things. Sometimes, the patient becomes furious and sometimes goes into a state of complete inactivity. Only forty years ago one would very likely have died of pneumonia, typhoid, malaria and meningitis etc but the invention of antibiotics have eliminated these deadly diseases from many parts of the globe. Similarly, many schizophrenics would have been languishing in mental asylums had not themedicinesfor psychoneurosis been invented. The sophisticated tranquillizers have brought a sea change in the lives of patients suffering from schizophrenia.Most of the people consider a mental disease to be a divine punishment and the parents of the victims seldom report to the psychiatrist. Some wrongly deem it to be the job of a holy man to treat such diseases by spiritual dispensation only. On the other hand, if ever a patient reports to a psychiatrist, he gives electro convulsive therapy which in some cases can permanently damage the brain. Owing to this reason, shock therapy is no more given in the West. However, conversational shock therapy has produced remarkable results. In this method of treatment, a psychiatrist says shocking things to the patient who slowly but surely gains normalcy. The government should seriously make attempts to educate the people about mental health through TV programmes. The NGOs can definitely bring a revolution in the lives of mentally retarded people in our county. The government should encourage the medical students to adopt the profession of Psychiatry. Likewise, there must be a mental health hospital in every city. The people also must know that it is their moral obligation not to attach any stigma to mental illness because it is just like other ailments of the human body and as curable as any other malady under the sun. MUBUSHAR ALI SULEHRIA, Wah Cantt, February 23.