Are We Taking Psychological Health for Granted?
– Mubashra Manzoor
We are quite attuned to a phrase, “a healthy body has a healthy mind”. My observation, meek experience and changing dynamics of the world situations from the start of this millennium, makes me advocate of vice versa of the statement as well. A healthy mind can eventually have a healthy body; a hale and hearty lifestyle can only be driven with the help of a vigorous mind. I usually hear people complaining of the fast paced life that this era has brought to us;some are yearning for the happy 90s and their peaceful childhood, which is all true to some extent. The cognitive pattern get affected with change of any kind, but changes like rapid globalization, inventions of destructive weapons, amplified capitalism, and commercialization has changed a lot. The stinginess among relations, paradigm shift in the patterns of habitation, pseudo-globalization through virtual media, invention of nuclear weapons all around the world, frequency of natural disasters, colonization and migrations, all of these factors can result in imbalanced personalities from slight to considerable extent. We are so obsessed with terms like terrorism, extremism, religious diversities and religious bigotry these days, but, the root causes behind these effects are not considered well. Human mind is a very potent yet treacherous contraption.A slightest ambiguity, conflict or trauma can cause divergence from its normal mode,like software inflicting with a virus which keeps replicating and eventually cause serious damage to the software. Mind is the software of our brain, the conscious part of the controlling body.
Sometimes in developing countries, mental health and development is taken for granted either due to the inferior economic conditions, sometimes less awareness or most of the time it disappears in the desperation of fulfilling responsibilities, elevating living standards for the family and maintaining social status. Social norms and settings are among other reasons of preventing people from going to psychiatrist or asking for help. Expensive treatment charges of doctors are also restraining people from visiting them frequently. In Pakistan, media and talk shows are observed to yell about the lack of patience and forbearance in our society and the scenario seem to be worsened during Ramadan, religious occasions, protests, and political talks and rallies. On root level tensions among familiesand relations are causing unnecessary stress and depression.In Pakistan, living conditions have been changed in past two decades more rapidly than ever. In past ten years, the country has gone through increased frequency of bomb blasts since 2001, a major natural disaster in the form earthquake of Oct. 8, 2005, drone attacks since 2004, ruinous floods in 2010, target killings, bloodshed in the name of religion and sectarianism, military operations, and what not. Inflation, lack of education, poverty, class differences, lack of basic needs, poor health facilities, unequal distribution of power and wealth are other constant variables that are inflamed due to natural disasters or war on terror. Then why won’t they upshot as lack of patience, extremism or fanaticism? More than 57,000 Pakistanis, both combatants and non-combatants, have been slayed to death since 2001 according to the counts of Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). These statistics doesn’t include the death toll as a result of drone attacks, highest death rate of which is about 2,000 to 3,800 people as of early January 2015. Whereas a myriad of innocents have been slaughtered in target and sectarian killings. It’s tormenting and helpless to see someone breathe his last in front of you. Death is painful and traumatic, harrowing is the sense of loss of loved ones, destruction of belongings and sometimes your former self. Revenge and rage are the natural outcomes of a perturbed mental state. But how to comfort these afflicted minds puts a big question mark. Because it needs a new setting where saying “I am not fine” is fine. In the society where children are exposed to abuse in less than 10 years of age and women are afraid of harassment should reconsider its standards and philosophy.
Floods in 2010 were recorded to be worst in country’s history. More than 2,000 lives were taken and about 18 million were affected. Now what about those who were affected? Were they given any post traumatic treatment? Most of them are sometimes unaware of the fact that they’re disturbed or don’t have enough resources to deal with it. From here emerges and strengthens the belief and ideas spread by so called religious soul healers and bogus therapies because that’s the cheapest options we have at rural level. According to a study published in journal of Affective Disorders states that 65% of the tested population, after earthquake hit northern areas of Pakistan, met the criteria of probable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Are we in a position to rescue at least a few from after stress of these disasters? May be or No is a possible answer I know. So how do you expect economic thrive and zest when more than one-tenth of population is under stress or suffering from depressive modes. How come a society, which doesn’t have nerves to accept mood swings of an expecting mother and doesn’t allow a man to cry to maintain his manliness, can endure the suffering of dismayed minds?
Children are more vulnerable in this situation as unfavorable conditions at homes, schools, among friends, undiagnosed genetic syndromes, or certain overlooked habits, can instigate long term damage to their growing self. The exposure of internet, mobile phones, interactive video games and electronic media in early age is not only giving them the opportunities to learn but also put a responsibility on the parents to device new methodologies for their training. From eating habits of the children to what they’re playing with, needs to be silently monitored so that they can accordingly be mentored. According to a study conducted in Sweden, intelligent kids are more prone to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. On the other hand sensitivity is directly proportional to stress and depression. Children with higher IQ tend to create their own world which stems from their individual perception; their reactions are more intensified and enduring when reality clashes with their perception. Thus perception is a very strong unconscious process which keeps on evolving over time and with experiences. A personality as a whole is a combination of nature and nurture; people are reflection of what they’ve been through. At times you become, intentionally or unintentionally, what you deal with.
What evolution demands is a modification of attitude and perception towards life.Demand of new perception and attitude is not a trivial plea that humanity is asking for; it is a serious matter of reevaluating our selection, organization and interpretation of information from a not-so-perfect environment. It needs a balance of strong minds and subtleforgiving hearts to endure, accept, respect and respond instead of reacting, cursing and damaging.