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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has emphasised the need for formulation of a national mental health policy to address the mental health issues in Pakistan.

“24 percent population of the country is facing various mental health issues and it required an institutional framework and public-private partnership to provide mental health services to the people,” the president expressed these views while chairing a follow-up meeting on mental health in Pakistan, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, on Tuesday.

A detailed presentation by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on the National Mental Health App “Humraaz” highlighted that more than 240,000 calls had been received since its launch in April 2023.

The president appreciated the launching of “Humraaz” which was providing mental health assistance and counselling services to people in need.

He called for improving the effectiveness of the Humraaz app, besides strengthening the mental health support system in the country. He highlighted that mental health was a major concern for Pakistan which required coordinated efforts by both the public and private sectors to utilise their expertise.

He further emphasised the need for an integrated approach on all mental health-related programs and initiatives to effectively address the mental health challenge being faced by the country.

He urged the need for the capacity building of human resources, besides providing online trainings to overcome the shortage of mental health professionals.

The meeting underscored the need for raising awareness about mental health issues to educate people about the importance of seeking mental health counselling.

The role of the family in providing psychological support and helping manage health issues was also highlighted. During the meeting, the need for collective measures and an integrated approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant ministries, Pakistani psychiatric associations based in the USA and the UK, and civil society was also stressed.

The federal minister for health services, regulations and coordination appreciated the role played by President Dr Arif Alvi and the First Lady in raising awareness about various health issues in Pakistan. He expressed the hope that the precedent set by the Presidency would be sustained and followed.

The meeting was attended by the Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr Nadeem Jan, and representatives of the National Commission for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, and senior government officials.

Representatives of the provincial health departments, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Taskeen Health Initiative, Pakistan Psychological Association, Pakistani American Psychiatric Association of North America, British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association, other organisations working on mental health attended the meeting via video link.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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