Category Archives: Mental health

Changing mindsets

Image courtesy: t2f.biz

By Zubeida Mustafa

TALKING about prisons, the chief justice of Sindh said last Saturday that more than retribution and deterrence the main purpose of imprisonment should be reform and rehabilitation. In Pakistan, where the prison system is by no means in ideal shape — Karachi jail has 6,000 prisoners when its capacity is for under 2,000 — the need to address the moral correction dimension is conspicuously inadequate.

To step into this unsavoury situation with the idea of bringing about reform is in itself an act of courage. Saleem Aziz Khan, the founder of the Society for Advancement of Health, Education and Environment (SAHEE), has nevertheless decided to meet the challenge. Along with Azhar Jamil, he launched the four-step Criminon Programme in the Karachi jail in 2007. The two now want to expand the project as they feel they are making an impact.

Having borrowed the concepts from internationally recognised and tried projects, Azhar defends the project as being “a secular programme that teaches common-sense values”. Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Books, Children and Youth, Development and Poverty, Education, Human Rights, Justice, Labour, Law & Order, Mental health, Social Issues |

Inspired by music

DSCN0170_Fotor

By Zubeida Mustafa

HASAN is a special child. He is autistic. Music inspires him and had it not been for his love of classical music which he shares with his grandfather, his mind would have continued to be caged. ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) prevents Hasan from connecting normally with the world around him because his communication skills have been impaired.

The magical effect of music on children has now been scientifically documented. Preschool teachers testify that sound — including language, poetry and music — positively helps a child’s mental and emotional development. Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Books, Children and Youth, Culture and the Arts, Education, Health, Language, Mental health, Social Issues |

Facing challenges in bringing peace to Karachi

i-am-karachi-teach-for-peace-conference

By Zubeida Mustafa

I will not be over stating if I say the challenges to a peacemaker in Karachi are phenomenal and nearly insurmountable. I have been asked to speak on how you as teachers can help your students to cope with stress and trauma that has become the norm for Karachi’s youth. If you want to promote peace and the cause of children you must be familiar with some basic facts yourself, even though the information is for you to enhance your understanding of the dynamics of the Karachi situation. Thus you can become the model that your students so badly need to help them cope with the dilemmas violence creates in their minds. It will also equip you with the knowledge you need to answer your students’ questions which will be inevitable if you follow the approach suggested by experts.

There are numerous factors that have reduced the state of law and order of this megalopolis to what it is today. If you look at the number of people who are killed – and that does not include natural deaths or road accidents – you will be stunned by the humungous loss of life. Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Children and Youth, Culture and the Arts, Economy, Education, Environment, Human Rights, Media, Mental health, New, Terrorism and Violence, War and Peace |

Breaking the cycle

23-2

By Zubeida Mustafa

PSYCHIATRISTS in Pakistan have been crying themselves hoarse about the rise of mental illness in the country. Ever since militants and religious extremists have unleashed their terror on the hapless population, the incidence of anxiety and depression has been on the rise. But these disorders are stigmatised and are not publicly discussed.

There is much talk about poor governance, corruption and even the falling level of tolerance in society but no one wants to mention the impact of these problems on the mental health of the people and how the latter’s attitudes and mindsets reinforce the conditions that gave birth to the problems in the first place.

  In an article in the New Internationalist Magazine, Samah Jabr, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist in Jerusalem, pointed out that worse than the 2,133 deaths, 11,000 injuries and the destruction of countless homes caused by Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza in July-August 2014 was the psychosocial damage inflicted by the war. She said, “the destruction of life at a physical and material level is also the destruction of a way of life, the destruction of a point of view: physical warfare brings with it psychological warfare”. She warned that violence will “beget an unending spiral of victimhood and revenge, of polarisation … [and] of further trans-generational trauma”.

Also read: Psychiatrists concerned about plight of IDPs

This is precisely what is happening in Pakistan. Most upsetting is the psychological warfare taking place and the ground has been softened for it by the ineptitude and corruption of successive governments. The destruction of our education system, moral Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Books, Children and Youth, Culture and the Arts, Development and Poverty, Education, Health, Islamisation, Law & Order, Mental health, Social Issues, Terrorism and Violence, Women |

Assistive technology

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in 2006. Picture by ELIZABETH DALZIEL/AP (Photo Courtesy: www.npr.org)

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN a recent interview, Prof Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist, said that the full development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. He added that technology would eventually become self-aware and supersede humanity, as it developed faster than biological evolution.

Prof Hawking who can be termed a rare miracle personifying courage, spirit and natural intelligence, is a beneficiary of modern communication technology. He suffers from motor neuron disease and according to the doctors’ prognosis should have died 50 years ago. He has not only defied those predictions but has led a productive life contributing to his field. Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Health, Information, Mental health, New, Social Issues |

How Young Pakistanis Help Themselves

By Nudrat Kamal The challenges that Pakistan’s young people face today are significant and pervasive, and can be addressed only through sweeping systemic changes. Notwithstanding these challenges, many young people are defying great odds to become conscientious and engaged members … Continue reading

Comments Off | Posted in Children and Youth, Culture and the Arts, Development and Poverty, Education, Guest Contributor, Health, Human Rights, Law & Order, Mental health, Notable Personalities, Social Issues, Terrorism and Violence, Women |

No ray of hope

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN a society where mental illness carries a stigma and is shrouded in superstitious beliefs, the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH) has done a creditable job of spreading some public awareness about disorders of the mind.

However, that is not enough. Even if a person’s problem is diagnosed, then what? Treatment is expensive. Psychiatrists are few in number in proportion to the sufferers.
There is little government support for this branch of healthcare as is evident from the Sindh government’s indifference towards its responsibility of drawing up the Mental Health Act to replace the Ordinance of 2001 and frame rules to implement it. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Health, Mental health, Social Issues |

Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts

By Zubeida Mustafa

Here are some tips which have helped me ward off the blues – at least in times like these when the going is tough.

  1. Resort to the “Kitchen Table Wisdom” strategy. Actually this should be a part of people’s life on a continuing basis and not just when they are upset. In a nutshell, it requires family and friends to share their stories – mainly their experiences of the day on a daily basis. Continue reading
3 Comments | Posted in Health, Mental health, Social Issues |

Manufacturing happiness

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE grass is always greener on the other side, so it is said. Crises also assume a more horrific image when viewed from a distance, especially when the media is there to beat the drums. But when you get closer to the scene of action in both situations you find that things are not always what they appear to be. Continue reading

26 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Mental health, Social Issues |

Can happiness be measured?

by Zubeida Mustafa

NOT widely noticed internationally, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in July declaring “happiness was critical in advancing economic growth and social progress”. The “pursuit of happiness” was described as a “fundamental (universal) human goal”.
Psychologists have Continue reading

15 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Mental health, Social Issues |