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Ignorance, misunderstanding and other barriers to mental health treatment

We live in a progressive world where people have more rights than societies in the past.

Our world is advancing and taking the right steps towards complete civilization but it won’t be wrong if we say that even in today’s progressive world, speaking about mental health and depression carries a stigma.

People today know mental illness is illness and is curable but knowing the thing and understanding it are two different things.

Stigmatization narrows down to its two types: Personal stigma and social stigma.

Social stigma is substantially attached to mental illness. People are unaware of how prevalent mental illness is.

It has been studied that mental illness is experienced by one in four people at some point in their lives. Social stigma sticks to the sufferer’s life, affecting their work, relationships and most importantly, their self-esteem.

The life of a sufferer, already filled with the chaos of melancholy, where society adds up more chaos to it, making it a surplus.

The surplus trickles down, pouring the melancholy over the surroundings. This all shows how doomed we have gotten as a nation. Instead of subtracting, we are adding, which is leading to more suffering in the end.

It is said that, it takes one person to know one, a person who has never been affected by mental illness will never consider it as an unmitigated illness.

Stigmatization of mental illness can be traced back to the 17th century, when peculiar methods were used to get rid of the illness.

People have always confused mental illness with possession, instead of considering it as an absolute illness, they looked it as an evil spirit taking possession of the patient’s body and resort to exorcism.

Back then, trephining was used to get rid of what they presumed to be evil spirits. In trephining, they used to drill the human brain open, which eventually blew the evil spirits and as well as the person.

The people who got hold of any kind of mental illness back then were thought of to be in a league with devil torture, and became a victim to burning, hanging and sending to the sea.

The shocking part is that this inhumane behavior was not only tolerated but encouraged by the people.

From 17th century to 21st century, people still couldn’t totally understand the importance of speaking about mental health.

In the 21st century, society still consider mental illness as an “attempt to gain attention” or possession by some evil spirits.

Parents label their children as lousy, dramatic, short-tempered or arrogant without understanding the symptoms of mental illness.

Complete support is given to the people who are physically ill; a doctor prescribes medicine, a pharmacist is approached for the same but the case goes antithetical when it is a psychiatric prescription.

The sufferer is not even permitted to step out and approach a psychiatrist in the first place. The society thinks if a person is mentally ill, they could handle it themselves, instead of displaying it to the world.

Depression, a common mental disorder, is one of the most leading reasons of disability in the world, increasing up to 300 million people worldwide. Incidence is higher among women (5.1%) than men (3.6%), while older people are more susceptible to mental illness than younger ones.

According to a study conducted by Agha Khan University, the number of people with anxiety and depression disorders stand at 34 percent. Being the fifth most populous country, Pakistan has only 380 trained psychiatrists. It means that Pakistan has roughly one psychiatrist per half a million population.

The current situation of Pakistan is alarming enough, where more alarm is built on by our government. The government of Pakistan doesn’t even recognize psychiatry as a proper profession, and a mere 2 percent of the whole budget is set aside for mental health.

People in Pakistan over here has become oblivious to their own mental illnesses, considering those as phases of venom. Awareness must be widespread over the society, waking up the nation from their dreams of darkness.

Being ignorant to such a vital part of our everyday lives will get us nowhere.

The society can be ruined with minds being powerful, but affected by the illness that goes unnoticed.

Knowledge is a cardinal tool, but understanding of that knowledge is what makes us an influential human.

Influential humans make up influential societies, and the country can eminently prosper.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.