Emerging mental health crisis – 23 Jul 2022

Worsened public mental health will have a drastic impact on the country’s demographic, resources, labour productivity

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan reported an uptick in the rate of mental illnesses and suicide. Recently, mental health experts have warned of the adverse effect of crushing inflation on people’s mental health. In the absence of government relief, people have grown irritable and find themselves in a state of constant distress, despair, or hopelessness about the future.

Although both genders, all age groups, and people belonging to different strata of society are vulnerable to mental illnesses, individuals between the ages of 18 to 40 face a considerably higher risk. These individuals are a part of the working population and some of them are the sole breadwinners of their households. Therefore, their stress and anguish can multiply as they struggle to manage their responsibilities, expectations, and aspirations. Unfortunately, the social stigma against mental illnesses, a lack of awareness and the absence of adequate support prevent people from navigating their mental state and seeking help. People suffering from mental illnesses also neglect their physical health and are more likely to do so now with increased medicine prices and doctors’ fees. This can result in a higher prevalence of other diseases.

Considering that many parts of the country have already reported a high incidence of suicide, a worsened public mental health will have a drastic impact on the country’s demographic, resources, labour productivity, morale, etc. Therefore, the Ministry of Health Services should work with provincial and district health departments to curb the problem before it spirals out of control. A widespread campaign should be launched to inform people about the different mental health conditions and the need to seek professional support. The general healthcare system should incorporate rehabilitation services and counselling facilities to ensure early intervention.

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