Category Archives: Mental health

Breaking the cycle

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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

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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

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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

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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 |

Violence: beyond statistics

By Zubeida Mustafa

A NEW book that is making waves in the West these days is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

Written by Harvard’s professor of psychology Steven Pinker, the book argues that “violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most ‘peaceable era in our species’ existence”. Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in Media, Mental health, Social Issues, Terrorism and Violence |