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Showing posts with label Dr Ayesha Mian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dr Ayesha Mian. Show all posts

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pakistan’s unusual suicide issues highlighted


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Married women and single men under the age of 30 in Pakistan are among the groups most likely to commit suicide, according to speakers at a panel session Wellness in the Workplace at Aga Khan University. 

The event was part of a week of sessions and themed activities aimed at spreading awareness of the importance of suicide prevention: the theme for World Mental Health Day 2019. 

The speakers noted that research showed that Pakistan’s highest-risk groups for suicide were different to those in other parts of the world. 

In the West, single men between the age of 50 and 60 are most likely to take their own lives. But in Pakistan, youth of working age, under the age of 30, are most likely to commit suicide which suggested that employers had a role to play in tackling the public health threat of suicide, which claimed about 800,000 lives a year globally, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to global figures, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds with three out of four suicides occurring in low and middle income countries. 

The worthy speakers reckoned that companies needed to establish a culture where people could speak about their challenges and daily stresses without the fear of being judged. 

The forums where employees can openly share their concerns promote wellness in the workplace and reduce the threat of issues such as anxiety and burnout. 

Shagufta Hassan, interim CEO of Aga Khan University Hospital, added that companies should launch professional mentorship programmes so that vulnerable youth had someone they could seek advice from. 

She also highlighted the importance of offices having counselling services where employees facing challenges could access additional help or be referred to professionals. 

Speaking at the event, Atiya Naqvi, a clinical psychologist, noted the importance of friends and family in supporting those going through a difficult time, adding that the mere act of listening to a person’s problems helps reduce anxiety. She also spoke of the need to monitor one’s thought patterns and to communicate one’s concerns with those around them. 

Dr Ayesha Mian, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at AKU, noted that hopelessness and despair are feelings that often exist in people with suicidal ideation. 

She noted that being unable to cope with financial pressures, academic stresses, dysfunctional relationships and bullying were some of the determinants known to lead to passive or active thoughts of suicide. 

“There is a myth that only those patients with mental health disorders will commit suicide. While more often than not, patients who die of suicide have a diagnosed psychiatric illness, there may be those who do not have a mental health disorder. We know that for every one person who takes their life there are ten people actively planning suicide and a 100 with suicidal ideation, which is why prevention efforts are so vital,” Dr Ayesha remarked. 

She also spoke about how compassionate words and actions can help ease feelings of despondency that may lead to pervasive feelings of hopelessness and suicidality in those vulnerable. 

“Talking about suicide doesn’t promote suicide. We often underestimate the importance of listening and acting with compassion even though they help protect against a number of self-harming actions. It is important to listen with sincerity and without fear; if you don’t know what to do, ask the person how would you like me to help,” she advised. 

Over the course of the week, students and staff at the University participated in support group sessions and wellness camps designed to promote mental wellbeing. Students also held a Kindness Walk and organized a Wall of Compassion to showcase the importance of empathy and kindness in preventing harmful thoughts and actions.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Social bias contributing to mental illness: Dr Ayesha Mian


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

There is a perception that people with mental illness are violent, look different from others, can never get better or cannot be productive members of society. These inaccurate and misleading stereotypes impact adversely on people's struggle to cope with their condition.

These were the views of Dr Ayesha Mian, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Aga Khan University (AKU) while addressing journalists at a dialogue on mental health at the Karachi Press Club (KPC). 

The session was organized by AKU in coordination with the club’s Health Committee. 

“The studies show that people with mental illness are much more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator. Media should come forward and be strong partners against this social bias,” she stressed. 

“Family members, friends and the society in general have a vital role in helping people recover from mental illness. They need positive attitude and acceptance of their conditions,” she added. 

It is estimated that approximately 50 million people suffer from common mental disorders in Pakistan. The illness afflicts 15 to 35 million adults, which is approximately 10 to 20 per cent of the population. Additionally, approximately 20 million children, or over 10 per cent of the population, need attention from mental health practitioners. Unfortunately, there are only 400 trained psychiatrists in the country, meaning that there is roughly one psychiatrist available per half-million people. 

Dr Ayesha Mian explained that mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect mood, thinking and behaviour. People go through periods when they feel emotions such as stress and grief, but symptoms of mental illnesses last longer than normal and are often not a reaction to daily events. When symptoms become severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to perform day-to-day chores, they may be considered to have a significant mental illness. 

She described factors that may lead to depression, anxiety and addictive behaviors, and eating disorders, stressful life situations, use of alcohol or recreational drugs, imbalance of a chemical substance in the brain, and genetic disorder or having a blood relative with a mental illness. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness. 

“While not all mental illnesses are preventable, some changes in lifestyle can significantly help. Be an organized person in your routine life, take wise and timely decisions, and take good care of yourself with healthy eating, regular physical activity and sufficient sleep, usually seven to eight hours for adults. Avoid conflicts in personal as well as professional life, try to participate in social activities, and get together with family or friends regularly. Avoid alcohol and drug use,” she advised. 

“Pay attention to warning signs, for example, inability to cope with daily problems or stress, and have an evaluation by a mental health or other healthcare professional. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and therapy or counseling,” she emphasized.

On the occasion, Dr Ayesha Mian also informed that AKU’s 19th National Health Sciences Research Symposium will focus on mind and brain. Starting from November 4, the annual conference will bring together hundreds of national and international healthcare professionals working in the field of neuroscience. 

Apart from the covering journalists, the session was also attended by Professor of Neurology at AKU, Dr Saad Shafqat, Secretary General of KPC, Alauddin Khanzada, Secretary of Karachi Union of Journalists, Shoaib Ahmed, and the club’s Health Committee members, including Waqar Bhatti and Hamid Rehman Awan.