Life demands survival, and survival is under obligation to human mind and body. A healthy body may not always mean a healthy mind, but a healthy mind always means a healthy body. Our mental and physical health both are crucial aspects of our survival in this restless world.
Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person realizes their abilities and worth. Various countries organize awareness programs about mental health with the agenda of spreading awareness about its positive and mainly its negative impacts on an individual’s life. However, in Pakistan, people still do not consider mental health as a prominent issue that needs highlighting. According to a study, more than 90% of Pakistan’s population with common mental diseases go untreated due to the country’s dearth of mental health experts. Although it appears that more people are aware of the mental health problem, but the stigma with it still exists. With it we see that there is a drastic need to upplight our societies way of thinking and should guide them about what depression is and what devastating outcomes it can produce.
Misconception about the term ‘Mental health’ in Pakistan
Mental health is still a Taboo in Pakistan, where 1000 of people are left alone to suffer in silence. In our country ignorance of the family and then the society is the number one cause of negligence of the signs of severe depression in an individual, instead of helping the one suffering from such a mental disease people think of them as different or “Pagal” if we say it in our language. These individuals after getting little or no help from the people around them eventually forces them towards self-harm. A study done by WHO shows that,there were 19 331 suicidal deaths (females 4560, males 14771) in 2019. WHO also estimates that for every suicide there are at least 10–20 acts of self-harm. 1 Hence, there may be an estimated 140 000–300 000 acts of self-harm in Pakistan annually.
Mental health with mental illness
In our country people mainly associate the term mental health with mental illness, most of the people of Pakistan do not understand the danger of the word depression. The main reason of this is the lack of awareness amongst the people of our society and the ignorance of the society, some people in our society just do not want to understand this term properly as for them mental illness basically means that the individual is mentally unstable. Even if there is a member in the family who is suffering from this illness due to any reason, they tend to hide it from the society as they believe the society will call their family member as different and will treat them differently. So eventually, in our country where a lot of the population is uneducated and unaware of the term mental health, they primarily associate mental health with mental illness.
It is rightly said that“There is no general agreement on the definition of mental health. For a long time, the term mental health has been used as a euphemism for mental illness (Manwell et al., 2015).”
Self- Care: as a crucial step towards a healthy mind and body
In a country like Pakistan where the about 60 million people are illiterate, there is a drastic need of promoting the ways of self-care amongst the society. Statedly, depressive disorders pose a serious public health concern in low- and middle-income countries, with predictions indicating they will become the most common cause of disability by the year 2020 (Reference Murray and LopezMurray & Lopez, 1996). Therefore, promoting the ways of self-care among our society becomes crucial in preventing individuals from developing such a health concern. Here are some ways of Promoting self-care for the well-being of people living in Pakistan.
- Challenging one’s negative emotions:it’s not always right to believe everything you think, sometimes it is necessary for us as individuals to challenge ourselves and our thoughts instead of letting them take over.
- Promoting self-care programs: Organizing such programs is crucial to properly guide individuals about the ways of self-care.This achievement can occur by conducting community sessions in Pakistani schools, colleges, universities, offices, and even local parks, ensuring that every individual can benefit from them.
- Encouraging healthy exercise practices: Different educational institutions should prioritize exercise to introduce the idea of a healthy lifestyle to children from a very young age.
- Seeking professional help: In Pakistan many people believe that mentally disturbed people are “Nafsiyati mareez” due to which such people find it difficult to seek proper help. The phycologist and health care organizations both should work tighter and should properly guide the people about the importance of seeking professional help and that there is no shame in it.
- Being open: individuals suffering from such disorder should never fear of speaking about their difficulties and the society should also understand them and should work with them hand in hand towards betterment.
In conclusion, mental health is very crucial aspect of an individual’s life which plays an important role in shaping the individual’s personality and life itself. There is a crucial need of addressing mental health issues openly in Pakistan so that the individuals suffering from it may receive proper care and help.Such people feel trapped within themselves when the lack of proper help deprives them, especially in our country where many misconceptions are present about the term itself. Therefore, it is necessary to guide our people about it and contribute to changing their mindsets.
Today, many educational institutions are emerging with psychology as a field, but the problem still lies in the mindset of the people that needs to change.
By prioritizing self-care, positive thinking, seeking professional help and being positive and open about such a condition through various programs, we together as a society can overcome this taboo and can try to understand the true meaning of mental health.
Its time that we start talking about mental health issues. And start spreading awareness about how it contributes towards the well-being of an individual.