Deteriorating mental health

The April 9 killings and violence is not going to help Kashmir's mentally ailing people in any way. A few months ago, medical experts had made clear that PTSD patients needed some respite from the violence. But the new phase of violence will add more patients to the list which is already too long to evoke a serious response from the authorities, civil society and all the concerned. Kashmir's mental health has already been a matter of grave concern. A report released by the MSF last year on mental health in Kashmir has sent shock waves across the state. According to the report, one out of every two adults is mentally disturbed in the Valley.

The survey reveals that one in every five adults in Kashmir is living with PTSD. The study further reveals that nearly 1.8 million adults equaling 45 per cent of adult population suffer from mental distress in Valley and a majority of people have experienced or witnessed conflict-related trauma. The report also reveals that depression is the most prevalent disorder in the valley with 41 per cent adults showing its symptoms. The issue should have been addressed properly and in its totality but the attitude of the union government and the state government is an indication that Kashmir will remain mentally ill for the time being. Instead of comforting the people, the government has sent shocking messages to the beleaguered people. Pellets are still used against protesters and only yesterday 8 people lost their lives. The government of India has been expecting a change in Kashmir psyche but unless New Delhi mends it ways, it will be foolish to expect a shift in the troubled land. The authorities have to bear in mind that Kashmir needs counsellors, not pellets and bullets. The PTSD patents are reluctant to go to the psychiatric disease hospital for treatment. The experts visit the SMHS hospital regularly but a lot more needs to be done. The help must be available in every health centre of trouble torn Kashmir. Immediate measures need to be taken to address the problem, which has assumed alarming proportions.

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