“In the past few years there has been an increase in psychological disorders, according to WHO. One of the reasons in our country is that we refrain from talking about mental health issues and seeking treatment for them due to social taboos. The youth are not able to share and express their feelings, which piles up emotional pressures leading to pathologies,” shared Dr. Qudsia Tariq, Professor and Clinical Psychologist.
The Mental Health Awareness Drive conducted by the Department of Psychology, University of Karachi, under the supervision of Dr. Farah Iqbal, Chairperson of the department, focused on the possible issues faced by the youth related to mental health and to eradicate the stigma attached to it.
“This activity was an opportunity for them to learn to express their emotions; they got to know that it was possible to talk about their problems without being judged or labeled. This activity is a step towards building a healthy society,” she added.
There were 15 groups of students were led by a supervisor; they visited different departments in the university.
The lead presenters addressed certain myths related to mental health.
For instance, the myth that only those who are awkward, violent, isolated and disheveled can have mental illness was debunked. It was pointed out that many renowned personalities like Vincent Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, John Nash and Bourdain suffered from mental illnesses.
Another common myth is that counseling and therapy is just talking; why bother when you have friends and family to talk to. Well, there is a huge difference. Only trained psychologists can do psychotherapy, while psychiatrists can prescribe medicine. So it is crucial to understand the difference and come out of our shells when talking about mental illness. It is not something to be taken for granted nor is it something that heals on its own. It gets worse day by day unless treated by a trained professional.
At the end of the session, students’ queries were answered and their feedback was collected in a feedback box.
The event stressed on the importance of empathy; empathising is one of the most effective tools when dealing with people. We should make other people feel that their opinions matter and it is okay to have a bad day.
We should inculcate in ourselves a sense of tolerance, empathy and genuine concern towards our fellows. In some way or another, this can contribute in decreasing the frequency of mental illness.
All in all, it was a beneficial initiative and such drives should be encouraged every now and then. The Department of Psychology has started a new counseling center in the department’s vicinity and offers counseling for students and staff on a meager amount. Mental health is as important as physical health and the two work mutually.