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Mishal Launches Global Research Study on Mental Health on the World Mental Health Day

The 2020 research will assess the impact of extremism and terrorism on mental health and national psyche. Research will also explore public policy options for increased investments in mental health.

Islamabad, PK – 10 October 2020 – Pakistan is fighting its war on terror for the last 40 years, this has greatly impacted the national psyche towards others and especially how citizens react to any external stimuli. Mishal Pakistan, a country partner institute of the Future of Economic Progress System Initiative of the World Economic Forum will be conducting this longitudinal study to measure the state of mental health in Pakistan and beyond.

The study is announced on the World Mental Health Day, which is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. Specifically, goal 3 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. World leaders have committed to “prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, including behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development”.

Neuropsychiatric disorders in Pakistan make up 11.9 percent of the global diseases while only 2.62 percent of the GDP is spent on health, and data on incidents related to suicide remains unavailable. Mishal Pakistan’s research study will look into the psychological health of Pakistan to assess the impact of violence as a result of the war on terror. This research initiative focuses on assessing the impact of terrorism on a society’s mental wellbeing and how it effects the individuals belonging to these respective communities. The recent data shows that the overall mental health of communities has been majorly impacted during the COVID-19 outbreak while violence remains one of the key factors of the collective consciousness of the society.

Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan and the Member Experts Network of the World Economic Forum said, “Mental Health is one of the most ignored areas of research in Pakistan, while the nation is exposed to multiple challenges the policy makers need the said research data for public policy design and allocation of appropriate resources”. He further said, the research will seek help from the academia sector to incorporate the research findings into the knowledge platforms across the globe and suggest public policy options for increased investment in mental health”. This is also the theme of the World Mental Health Day 2020 as well.

Pakistan has been fighting the war on terrorism for more than 40 years. It is anticipated that the war has had a serious impact on the mental health of the society and has created an overall negative effect on the communities and their well-being. A 2019 study by American Psychological Association indicated that 41% women in KPK who were temporarily placed from Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) to Jalozai Camps were experiencing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Mishal Pakistan aims to study the correlation between extreme circumstances and mental health while highlighting how it impacts the population of the country in different segments.

Speaking on the occasion, Nadim Salim, Chief Executive Officer of Insights Research, said that, “one of the things that motivated us to conduct the Research study is that working on mental health helps improve our communities by making it more acceptable for those suffering from mental illnesses to seek help, learn to cope, and get on the road to recovery”. He also said, “In addition, mental health isn’t just about mental illnesses. It’s also about maintaining a positive state of wellbeing”.

This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; for the vast number of people caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. And this is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.

The economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses, or indeed shut down completely.

Given past experience of emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.

According to a joint research of the Pakistan Psychiatric Center, Fountain House and the Shaukat Khanum Research Center published in the Taiwan Psychiatric Review 2020, Pakistan has only 400 trained psychiatrists for a population of 220 million, while more than 15 million people are suffering from one form of mental illness or the other. Moreover, Pakistan is a traditionalist society where discussing mental illness or related dysfunctional behavior is highly discouraged. The study by Mishal Pakistan will also examine the social structures and the pressure associated with discouraging people to seek professional help.

Mishal Pakistan is Pakistan’s leading strategic communication and design company. It is also the country Partner Institute of the Future of Economic Progress System Initiative, World Economic Forum. Mishal is responsible to generate primary data on more than 150 indicators measuring Pakistan’s competitiveness and other indicators. Mishal’s foremost domain of activity is behaviour change communication, strategic communication with a spotlight on media and perception management.

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