Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS) has unfolded its vision of future in recent past. I am humbled and seek the blessings of Allah Almighty in my way to fulfill my responsibilities in this new venture of my professional career as president. I strongly believe in teamwork and mutual collaboration between stakeholders. I wished to add my two pennies in the service of psychiatry through PPS in terms of nationwide awareness and destigmatizing campaigns, enhancing the quality of teaching and training, international and national research training and collaboration, impact in publication, patronizing indigenous contribution to existing literature, and keeping our own experience up to date at par with international contemporary practices. I long one day psychiatry will grow into one of the many avenues of mental health profession and we may be able to influence society and law makers in favour of human friendly norms and legislation.
Moreover, we will be jointly working for development of PPS National Guidelines, Book Publishing, GPs Training Program, Free Psychiatry Camps, informational care brochures, PPS membership Campaign and other Initiatives suggested or proposed by members of mental health community!
I strongly believe that Mental Health Professionals can play a very dynamic role in not only providing clinical services but in general life issues like stress management, better parenting, inculcation of tolerance, uplifting social services in our society and in making our beloved country, strong and prosperous! We can also play our part by making this world more tolerant and human friendly place with Clean and Green Environment!
Amid the voices of these vows were still echoing, the news of the death of two of our psychiatrist colleagues disrupted the echoes. While this incident is tragic and warranted our deep-felt condolences, it only served to highlight the acute crisis of mental health which was already dire before the onset of COVID19. In the last year, mental health problems have multiplied manifold all over the world. In Pakistan, this is manifested in the rising incidence of common mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Alongside this are also rising cases of domestic and workplace violence, crime, and violence against the most vulnerable segments of our population including women, children, and the poor. In addition, PPS is greatly concerned about the extreme stress and burnout which all healthcare professionals are facing due to the fall out of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and all healthcare professionals are under tremendous pressure both at work and at home. We have lost many brilliant and dedicated doctors and healthcare professionals to COVID19 and the ongoing second wave of the pandemic is stretching our healthcare resources including our dedicated healthcare heroes to the limits. PPS urges the Government of Pakistan and all provincial governments to make mental health a national priority and to take the following steps immediately to ameliorate the ongoing mental health emergency:
1. Mental health must be provided a separate share in the national health budget commensurate with the existing needs of our population.
2. Treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders must be included in the “Sehat Sahulat Program” via “Sehat Insaf Cards”.
3. Psychiatric training centres need to be upgraded and enhanced nationally.
4. All THQ and DHQ hospitals must have the services of a psychiatric department with consultant psychiatrists and affiliated mental health professionals working under their supervision available around the clock, so patients and their families do not have to travel to large cities to access mental health services.
5. All healthcare professionals and their families including doctors and nurses must be provided access to high quality mental health care round the clock for the duration of the COVID19 pandemic and beyond.
6. A national media awareness campaign about mental health and mental illness should be started immediately to inform the public about these deadly illnesses and their prevention and treatment.
7. Provision of Psychological hotline services for prevention of suicide.
Please feel free to communicate any ideas, plans, issues, or other matters of concern regarding betterment of mental health status in Pakistan in terms of training of mental health professionals, service access to psychiatric patients, destigmatizing ideas, enhancement of forensic services or any related issues!
I look forward to stakeholders for a better mental health landscape in Pakistan.