Mobile gaming addiction, burden of homework major causes of suicide among children, moot told – 20 Feb 2023

SUKKUR: Experts warn that increasing addiction to gaming on mobile phones, parents` failure to spend quality time with family and irrationally higher burden of homework are some of the major causes behind growing number of suicides among children in schools, colleges and universities across Pakistan.

Despite psychiatric disorders spreading fast the country had only one child psychologist for 40 million children while as a whole 35 per cent of the country`s population needed psychiatric help at some point in their life, they said.

They were speaking at oneday seminar on `MentalHealth A Global Priority` at Suklcur IBA University the other day. Hope for All Social Development Organisation had organised the programme in collaboration with Khairpur Medical College and Schizophrenia Outreach Larkana (SOL), said a press release.

They expressed concern over lack of experts in the Held of psychology in Pakistan and government`s apathy towards mental health issues, growing suicide rate among young generation and increasing addiction to drugs.

Dr Badruddin Junejo, head of SOL, said that poverty, innation, social inequalities, domestic violence and other reasons were also contributing to mental illnesses but mostpeople were ignorant about mental health issues.

Dr Zulfiqar Rahojo, a psychologist and chairman of Sindh Progressive Thinl(ers Forum, said that according to the World Health Organisation statistics of 2017, there were a total of 342 psychologists, 478 psychiatry and mental health professionals for about 21 million people in Pakistan.

He said that four per cent of the patients suffering from various diseases in Pakistan were mentally ill. With a rate of 0.5, Pakistan was among the lower middle countries of the world in terms of mental disorders, he said.

He said that economic crisis, inequalities, class, urban and rural differences and lack of basic facilities were among major causes of mental ill-nesses. Only two per cent of the budget was allocated for health sector in the country and 0.4 pc of this 2pc was put aside for the treatment of mental health which was insufficient, he said.

He said there were a total of five hospitals for the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the entire country which were located in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore while most of the population lived in rural areas where people treated certain mental illnesses with the help of old tricks, wisdom tips and prescriptions and attribute mental disorders to ghosts due to lack of psychiatric hospitals and doctors.

Dr Harish Kumar Makheja, head of the Department of Psychology and BehavioralSciences at Khairpur Medical College, said that addition to gaming on mobile phones, parents` failure to spend quality time with family and irrationally higher burden of homework were some of the major factors for increase in suicide in young generation in schools, colleges and universities.

He said that since students were facing difficulties educational institutions would have to reduce study load on children and parents would have to establish friendly relationship with their children and spend quality them with time.

Rabia Mirza, chairperson of Hope for All Social Development Organisation, said that the entire society was trapped in depression, which was leading to anarchy and creating tendency amongyoung generation to go for addiction and suicide. But no one was willing to talk about it `we have started a mental health awareness campaign to draw attention of government and society,` she said.

Dr Inayatullah Awan, head of the Department of Psychology, GM College, Sukkur, said that Pakistani society was suffering from mental disorders caused by poaching, gender inequality, tribal wars, floods and epidemics. Inequality had created serious problems for the poor and marginalised people in society, he said, adding that lacl< of treatment and inadequate healthcarefacilitieshad worsened the situation.

Ghulam Shabir Babar, a Supreme Court lawyer, said that mental illnesses were alsoto blame for heinous crimes and terrorism in society.

People suffering from mental illnesses often slid into the world of crime, he said.

The speakers demanded increase in number of publicprivate partnership institutions for mental health and health budget and a bigger allocation for mental health.

Awareness campaigns be carried out for mental health through media and reforms be brought in existing laws for mental health, they said.

In order to protect children from mental illnesses, the issue should be addressed in schools, communities and institutions and psychologists should be provided more facilities and sent to rural areas and small towns, they proposed.

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