COVID-19 has started affecting mental health of people all over the world-Prof. Haroon Ahmad

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World Mental Health Day 2020 at JPMC
COVID-19 has started affecting mental
health of people all over the world-
Prof. Haroon Ahmad
Vast majority of people are now suffering from
CRONOPHOBIA - Prof. Iqbal Afridi

KARACHI: Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS) and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) Karachi at Najmuddin Auditorium to celebrate World Mental Health Day. Prof. Haroon Ahmed who was the chief guest on this occasion said that COVID-19 has started affecting the mental health of people all over the world and including Pakistan. People with a newer type of depression and symptoms of PTSD are approaching the psychiatrists for treatment.

“People are complaining of symptoms like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to COVID-19 related stress and experiences. A newer type of depression, which is not clinical depression, is also being observed where people are experiencing feelings of loneliness and lack of interest in daily life. These issues have a close relation to COVID-19 and its impacts on daily life of people”, he added.

Prof. Haroon Ahmed mentioned that it is heartening to note that people are breaking the taboos and publicly admitting that they are under treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental disorders, saying 70 percent of the depression is due to biochemical imbalance in the brain, which is not the fault of patient.

Continuing Prof. Haroon Ahmad said that “I’m saying this for last several decades that there is no need to hide mental illnesses. In fact, some of the people with mental illnesses including depression and bipolar disorder”, he said and added that mental health is given low priority but it has high prevalence health issue and burden on our society.

President-elect WPA Prof. Afzal Javed claimed that prevalence of mental health issues is not less than cancer or cardiac ailments in the world and it is estimated that now 25 to 30 percent of the world’s population is suffering from one or other kind of mental illness, adding that it is right time that more resources are allocated for the mental wellbeing, treatment and cure in countries like Pakistan.

Congratulating PPS and JPMC’s Department of Psychiatry for the successful event, Prof. Afzal Javed claimed that several countries of the world had started observing COVID-19 mental health issues, especially those facing continuing conflicts and economic crisis like Pakistan said that it is the right time that the mental health institutes and this important area of medical science should be provided with ample resources to deal with the upcoming pandemic of mental health issues.

PPS President and Dean JPMC Prof. Iqbal Afridi said it is right time that people also start investing in their mental health, which means that they start doing exercise to prevent themselves from obesity, stop using drugs, and reduce their use of mobile phones and computers to stay mentally healthy.

Talking about COVID-19 related health issues, Prof. Afridi said Coronavirus anxiety and phobia as well as Touch-Deprivation phenomenon were some of the pandemic-related mental issues which are affecting the lives of people and called for creating awareness about mental health issues among common people. He further added this has resulted in severe form of fear CORONOPHOBIA, repeated rituals and ruminations (OCD) on one hand and on another end psychosocial complications in the form of financial and economic loss was also faced. Another phenomenon of Denial and Conspiracy theory was also noticed during the pandemic.

Former Captain & the legendry cricketer Mr. Younus Khan spoke about the importance of having mental health for sportsmen in taking critical decision making. While eminent psychiatrist Dr. Unaiza Niaz called for publicly hanging rapists and child molesters to give a sense of protection to people, especially children and women.

The Uniqueness of this seminar was great participation with physical participation observing COVID-19 SOPS, Audiovisual messages of people from all walks of life with live webcast through Zoom, LUMHS FM 96.6 and participation by various electronic and print media covering huge awareness among mass media. The meeting was addressed by many other speakers as well. They urged the Governments of developing countries to invest more on mental health as people have started facing impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and now new types of psychiatric illnesses are being observed all over the world including Pakistan. It was pointed out that around 25 to 30 percent world’s population is suffering from one or other types of mental ailments and their incidence is constantly on the rise due to COVID-19.

The Executive Director of JPMC Dr. Seemin Jamali, Chairman Sindh Mental Health Authority, Senator Karim Khawaja, Ex-President Pakistan Society of Neurology, Prof Muhammad Wasay, Self-Empowerment Center-Pakistan’s Dr. Yasmin Khan, sent their video messages.

A skit related to the mental health theme was performed by the department which was much appreciated. Furthermore, President Pakistan Psychiatric Society, Prof. Iqbal Afridi announced Prof. Haroon Ahmed Research Award of PKR 150,000 cash prize in the field of Psychiatry to be given every year to one of the top research papers and dissertation. PPS would contribute PKR one million for the award while Prof. Haroon Ahmed also announced contributing PKR one million for the award. (PR)

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