<p><strong>What is the importance of International Mental Health Day?</strong>
</p><p>Each year, 10 October is commemorated as International Mental Health Day to advocate the significance of mental health globally. It promotes international communities to have a constructive dialogue and engagement, not just about the prevention but also to mitigate taboo around this subject. </p><p>The Aga Khan University Hospital, Pakistan (AKUH, P) participates each year to raise awareness across Pakistan. It reminds the public that mental health is as important as physical health and comprises emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects our daily activities and how we relate to other people. Therefore, it is important to engage in self care, especially if you suffer from mental health issues.</p><p><strong>
</strong></p><p><strong>Mental Health Inequalities</strong></p><p>Mental illness is closely associated with inequalities that prevail in society. This impacts those with severe mental illness more acutely. These inequalities are largely driven by complex and interrelated factors, such as:</p><ul><li>Wider social and environmental determinants, such as poor health, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration.</li><li>Stigma, discrimination, social isolation, and exclusion.</li><li>Behaviours that pose a risk to health such as smoking and poor diet.</li><li>Lack of support to access health and preventative care.</li><li>Diagnostic overshadowing – the misattribution of physical health symptoms to part of an existing mental health diagnosis, rather than a genuine physical health problem requiring treatment. (Courtesy: UK Health and Security Agency).
</strong></p><p><strong>Mental Health During the Pandemic</strong></p><p>The risk of poor mental well-being of the public, and specifically vulnerable segments of the population has risen significantly during the pandemic. </p><p>Dr Nargis Asad, a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor Department of Psychiatry at the Aga Khan University, Karachi, states that “due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, there is tremendous fear and anxiety amongst the public. Overexposure to media, social media, and fake news about COVID-19 has increased anxiety levels, leading to mental health issues amongst the public."</p><p><strong><em>“Fear of infection, family members dying, overexposure to media, and misconceptions related to vaccinations, fake content on social media, can impact mental health in present times."</em></strong><strong> </strong></p><p>Dr. Asad further explained that mental health issues are not age-specific. Adolescents, school-going children, college-going students, and even young adults are prone to suffering from mental health issues. She stated that living in midst of a pandemic, it is common to find yourself overthinking about exposure to the virus or being preoccupied with thoughts related it, which may interfere your day-to-day functioning and activities. It is advised that you seek professional mental health services if you experience these symptoms.</p><p>For more information on mental health services at AKUH please <a href="https://bit.ly/3mBNabG%E2%80%8B">visit</a>.<strong>
</strong></p><p><strong>Call to book an appointment: </strong>021 111 911 911