World Mental Health Day celebrated at JPMC
& Medicare Cardiac & General Hospital

KARACHI: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Karachi arranged a meeting at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi on 9th October 2015 in connection with World Mental Health Day. It was very well attended by Faculty members, psychiatrists, psychologists, postgraduate students and nurses. Dignity in Mental Health” was the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day. Prof. Haroon Ahmed a well-known psychiatrist and Prof. Anisuddin Bhatti Executive Director JPMC, Karachi, presided.

Speaking at the occasion Prof. Iqbal Afridi, Head Department of Psychiatry, JPMC in his welcome address said that mental health is as important as physical health to the overall well-being of individuals, societies and countries. The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, "Dignity in mental health" is about raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions can continue to live with dignity, through human rights oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, respect for informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.

About 1.24 million people Dr. Iqbal Afrid stated die each year as a result of road accidents which can be avoided. Solution is to address road safety in a holistic manner that requires involvement from multiple sectors like transport, police, health, education and that address the safety of roads, vehicle, and road users themselves. One in four people have a mental illness. Improvement can be achieved by having balance among sleep, work, pray, tahoor, (Hygine), Haqooqualabad, spirituality, quality sleep and advocacy. Slogan like prevention is better than cure has changed and we have to see predicting diseases, preventing disease, highly precise (personalized) and   participatory approach will take place in days to come. Tele mental health programme has been started at JPMC, he added.

 Prof. Haroon Ahmed speaking at the occasion said that it is a great effort of Prof, Iqbal Afridi and his team for their presentations in Urdu which were easy to understand and it must be appreciated.  Executive Director of JPMC is psychiatrist friendly which was not the case in our days, he added. From next year nine different organizations have decided to jointly organize mental health week, he further added. 

Prof. Anisuddin Bhatti Executive Director JPMC in his remarks said that it was a great opportunity for the participants to understand psychiatric diseases and its management. He also highlighted the various projects initiated under the safe, secure, green JPMC, and when completed will help to improve mental status of the people living and working here. Three thousand  five hundred  plants have been planted, parking area has been established, work is going on to rebuilt the helipad  at JPMC, playground and Gyms for  doctors families and children are being taken care in Doctors colony, fully air-conditioned new library  with separate  space for manuscript writing   with  computer facility is also being organized.

Postgraduate students of JPMC Psychiatry department presented short presentation in Urdu. Dr. Talal talked about Schizophrenia, Dr. Ali Buxdiscussed Bipolar Effective Disorders, Dr. Taj highlighted Conversions Disorders, Dr. Inder Kumar talked about somatoform disorders, Dr. Ashar elaborated on Mental Retardation, Mahak Ali and   Fareeha Faroqui discussed the Occupational Therapy.

Second session of this event was a panel discussion which was dedicated in the loving memory of Ex-Head of Psychiatry Department and Ex – Director JPMC Late Professor Musarrat Hussain and late Prof.  Zaki Hassan. Dua-e-Maghfirat was offered for Prof. Musarrat Husain and Prof. Zaki Hasan and also for 2005 earthquake victims.  Dr. Syed Zafar Haider moderated this session.

Mental Health day at Medicare Cardiac
& General Hospital

The 18th Mental Health day was also observed on 10th October 2015 at Jinnah Medical and Dental College (Medicare Cardiac & General Hospital) by Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH) Prof. Haroon Ahmed (President PAMH) welcomed the guests,

Justice (R) Prof. Dr. Ghous Muhammad (Patron PAMH) highlighted the milestone Sindh Mental Health Act passed by Sindh Assembly on 2013. He specially mentioned an amendment in the SMHA in 2015 which could give relief to many patients languishing in prison for years. It is in clause 49 which says: “A person who attempts suicide including an accused of blasphemy shall be assessed by an approved psychiatrist and if found to be suffering from a mental disorder shall be treated appropriately under the provisions of this Act” The rights of mentally ill must be acknowledged and protected. He stressed on the need to support the work of organizations such as PAMH and Jinnah Medical Group and inspect the prisons, and psychiatric units in Pakistan for review and improvement. 

Dr. Uzma Ambareen read her paper on help seeking behavior and stigma, based on the data from Free Mental Health Clinic of PAMH. She highlighted the kind of help that people have sought before coming to the clinic including a mental health professional, spiritual help, and other specialist help such as GP. 31% of patients had a GP/specialist care as the first point of contact however only 9% had been referred directly by a doctor. 10% attributed their illness to a spiritual cause and 10% required psychiatric treatment in addition to spiritual treatment. A significant proportion of patients (47%) would avoid disclosing their illness. The common barriers to seeking help are access to availability of services, affordability, stigma/labeling, lack of awareness, isolation, dignity, and superstitious beliefs. The potential solutions are primary prevention, raising awareness, community-based care, integrating mental health care in primary care, she added.

Dr. Tariq Sohail discussed stigma and the damaging beliefs associated with mental illness. He identified that psychiatric patients are stigmatized socially by neglect and isolation. Stigma against mental illness is as old as civilization itself. He stated that mental illness is seen as mysterious, strange and dangerous and one must ‘open the lid’ on it.

Ms. Maryam Haq from (Justice Project Pakistan) spoke about the ordeals of mental patients accused of blasphemy due to lack of awareness within the legal community about mental disorder. She spoke about lack of recognition or definition of ‘legally sane’ or ‘soundness of mind’ in Pakistan.  She highlighted two cases which illustrated the lack of adequate care and attention paid to mentally ill in Pakistan’s prisons. Ms. Maryam lamented the hardships of mentally ill in court, and said that a voice needs to be raised to abolish the death sentence.

Prof. Iqbal Afridi spoke on the roadblocks to implementation of SMHA 2013. He lamented that several laws exist to reduce the hardship on vulnerable population but, due to problems of their implementation, poor affected continue to suffer. Dr. Naim Siddiqi of SIUT Department of Behavioural Sciences shed light on a different perspective; increased suffering and dented dignity of patients due to mental health practitioners themselves.  He stated that perceptions of mental illness can often be misleading without accurate or lack of correct information. Dignity is not just for patients but also for those who deal with patients and how they conduct themselves. Our society is defined by how we treat the weak and vulnerable populations such as the mentally ill.

Ms. Alizeh Valijee from (Care for Health) spoke about the need for post treatment social reintegration and its impact on restoration of dignity in a recovered person. Recovery involves the ability to self care, finding employment and peer support and thus having an identity. The importance of providing rehabilitation with treatment is critical to improving people’s lives. Dr. Abdullah Mangi (Vice President, PAMH) presented the vote of thanks.

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