Provinces should devise provisional policies till any policy is devised at national level for preventing suicide cases
Sindh Mental Health Authority is working on data collection of suicide cases across the province
Health professionals at a webinar also urged for decriminalizing the self-harm and carrying out research to find out causes of suicide
Karachi: The health experts at a webinar insisted on formulation of National Mental Health Policy and viewed that all provinces should come up with their own provisional mental health policies till any national policy is devised for prevention of suicide cases in the country.
Sindh Mental Health Authority (SMHA) had organized the webinar in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) on Thursday on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day. The webinar theme was “Suicide Prevention in Pakistan and at Global level.”
Dr. Sara Salman, WHO representative in Pakistan, briefed the participants regarding her organization’s commitment towards mental health and the plan to work together with Sindh Mental Health Authority. She mentioned trainings being offered by the WHO in various regions of Sindh including Larkana, Hyderabad and Mithi. She added that the WHO is working with education and law departments department in Sindh addressing the adolescent health, regulation for pesticides and other means used for suicide.
Professor Murad Moosa Khan, President IASP, who is also working with SMHA for collection of data regarding suicide in Sindh, said his organization is helping globally and arranging regional congress in every 2 years. Stating that the suicide research and prevention is motto of IASP, he insisted formation of national mental health policy. “It is high time for all provinces to come up with their own provisional mental health policies till a policy is framed at national level.”
Prof. Murad highlighting the methods and the local solutions said that working together is needed much and opined that Sindh can help other provinces of country.
Professor Haroon Ahmed, founder of Pakistan Association of Mental Health, said Pakistan must decriminalize attempted self-harm. “This is vital because Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code is a strong prevention for most people against seeking medical help.” He also urged the need of mental health policy.
Professor Bikha Ram Devrajani, Vice Chancellor LUMHS, said that suicide is a global issue and not the crime and said there is acute shortage of mental health professionals in country. He highlighted the importance of psychiatry training of physicians. He also mentioned the university role in development of institute through legislation.
Professor Muhammad Iqbal Afridi said suicide is under-reported because of legal and religious aspects in Pakistan. He insisted on prevention of suicide cases and promotion of positive mental health. “Parents must spend quality time with their children while media must highlight positive aspects of mental health,” he urged.
Dr. Sono Mal Khanghrani of Thar Deep Social organization spoke on a number of psycho-social issues in southern part of Sindh sharing aspects of heterogeneous culture. He rejected the famous notion that burden of loans are cause of suicide. He advised psycho-social research to find our real causes. He said scheduled caste community is more vulnerable because of their profession of farming, unmatched marriages and the gender differences in gender-education and change in family structure.
Dr. Bharat Kumar said there is need to educate the masses and proper referral of mentally ill patients. He was hopeful for the efforts taken by SMHA. He recommended proper follow-up and awareness regarding mental illness.
Dr. Jamil Junejo, Assistant Professor LUMHS, highlighted the importance of data collection for future research. He informed the participants that SMHA is working on project of data collection from all over Sindh, and by the end this year facts and figures will be shared.
Dr. Saleman Otho representative of Sindh Health Department said that mental health is public health problem and his department is committed to improve mental health services in Sindh.
Dr. Suresh, Ex-secretary health, Dr. Ilyas Siddiqi, Chairman Department of Community Medicine LUMHS, Rahim Shaikh of LUMHS, Mushtaque Bhatti LUMHS and others attended webinar.
Dr. Karim Ahmed Khuwaja, Chairman, SMHA, assured the participants that SMHA and government of Sindh will work hard on the suggestions given by the learned scholars in this webinar and will deliver state of arts mental health facilities to community. (PR)