ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has urged the need for a comprehensive strategy to address the growing challenge of mental health issues in the country.

The president expressed these views while chairing a follow-up meeting on mental health, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit Prime Minister’s Office, Hussain Islam, and representatives of various organizations working on mental health, including the Pakistan Psychological Association (PPA), the Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS), the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), Taskeen Health Initiative, Pakistani American Psychiatric Association of North America (PAPANA), and British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association (BAPPA) through video link.

The president said that there is a need of collective measures and adopting an integrated approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, NGOs, psychiatric associations, and civil society to overcome the mental health burden in Pakistan.

The president highlighted that mental health was major concern, demanding coordinated approach from all involved parties.

He said that around 24% of the country’s population was facing various mental health issues and 60% of college and university students were under stress.

He said that this situation needed the immediate attention of the government, healthcare professionals, civil society organizations, and the media.

He called for concise and impactful messaging to create awareness about mental health issues by drawing upon the lessons learnt from the successful campaigns on COVID-19 and breast cancer.

He said that coordinated efforts were needed to overcome the social stigmas and taboos attached to mental health issues in Pakistan.

He also underscored the need for increasing the number of mental health professionals, besides taking steps for the capacity building of human resources to provide quality counseling and assistance to people.

The president lauded the signing of MoU between an international NGO and a private media group in Pakistan for raising awareness about mental health issues.

The meeting discussed the formation of a committee under the Chairman of Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to further bolster the effectiveness of the “Humraaz App” geared towards mental health assistance and awareness.

The necessity of adopting a collaborative care model to effectively extend services to individuals facing mental health challenges was also discussed.

Hussain Islam provided an overview of the initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office, “Humraaz”, a mental health services platform and helpline to aid those affected by mental illnesses. He informed the App was operational and was providing essential mental health services and counseling.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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