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 “No ray of hope”

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 “Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts”

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 “Manufacturing happiness”

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 “Can happiness be measured?”

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 “Violence: beyond statistics”

Elma’s choice

By Zubeida Mustafa

It was April 6, 1992, Eid for the Muslims of Bosnia, when the Yugoslav army struck. The Serbian soldiers had been taking up position on the hills surrounding Sarajevo since winter and we sensed that something out of the ordinary was taking place. However, we never really anticipated a war. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic society but we had never been conscious of our ethnic distinctiveness. Many of my friends were Serbs and Croats with whom I had grown up, and none of us believed that we would fight each other.

Continue reading “Elma’s choice”

Fits and Starts

 

Waiting for their turn

By Zubeida Mustafa

According to experts from WHO, nearly one out of ten people in Pakistan suffer from mental illness at one stage or another in their lives. It is estimated that 14 million people in the country and 1.2 million in Karachi need psychiatric attention. There are only 200 psychiatrists and 3500 hospital beds to take care of these patients.

Appalling figures no doubt. They, however, do not tell the whole story. Since psychiatric conditions are not major killers they tend to be ignored. Yet the fact is that out of the ten leading causes of disability (in terms of the number of years lived with disability) five are psychiatric disorders. They are debilitating and account for a tenth of the disease burden in all societies.

Continue reading “Fits and Starts”

Where does the youth stand? Victim of alienation & insecurity

By Zubeida Mustafa

1985 is the International Youth Year. At a time when world attention will be focussed on the youth — those in the age group 15 to 25 years — the state of the young men and women in Pakistan should arouse some interest, if not concern, in the public mind.

After all the young people are numerous enough to warrant some attention. They make up 17 per cent of the population. Moreover, they are more educated than others — the literacy rate in this group being 31 percent compared with 21 per cent for the nation (1972 census).

Then, being at an age when they are full of energy — both physical and mental — boundless enthusiasm, idealism and a sense of adventure they constitute a potent force in society. Continue reading “Where does the youth stand? Victim of alienation & insecurity”