Do we care?

From the year 1992, world mental health day is celebrated every year on 10th October. It might be a cruel coincidence that 1992 marked 3 years since turmoil started in Kashmir plunging the state i...

From the year 1992, world mental health day is celebrated every year on 10th October. It might be a cruel coincidence that 1992 marked 3 years since turmoil started in Kashmir plunging the state into a major epidemic of mental health crisis. Mental health ailments were once so alien to state, we as kids had never heard of Depression, PTSD or Anxiety disorders. Drug addiction and Suicides were at an all time low.
According to conservative reports about 21 thousand people suffer from mental ailments in Kashmir, out of which a staggering percentage of patients are females and need constant medication and counseling. What makes it worse is that about 2000 mentally challenged persons have been abandoned by their families making them homeless and forcing them to live on streets, or take refuge in various shrines. A long interaction with these homeless mentally challenged persons will reveal most of them have been evicted by their own family members in order to seize their share in property and land, thus infringing upon the basic rights of people suffering from mental ailments. Unfortunately while celebrating world mental health day in posh hotels has become a norm in Kashmir, no one provides free legal services to these people nor is there a mechanism to monitor that people with mental ailments are not discriminated against in respect of their share in property or employment opportunities. It's also a discomforting fact that large number of children suffer from various mental health ailments ranging from Schizophrenia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; these children are discriminated everywhere, beginning at schools and ending at their families. This kind of worst inhumane discrimination affects an individual's personality and they are literally turned into mental wrecks. Many are forced into begging or become petty criminals. While there is a mad race for opening orphanages [at least from my experience of constant bus travel], there are very few special schools in Kashmir and most of these special schools are situated in Srinagar. Mental health disorders lead to reduced man power in fields, offices and factories thus affecting the overall financial condition of our state. While the world is celebrating mental health and unfortunately people in Kashmir are severely facing problems of mental health, let's make a pledge of not discriminating against people who are mentally ill. Instead of criticizing and being an obstacle lets end their isolation and become a part in their recuperating process. People  whom God has given sound physical health and are financially well off should also spare a thought for mentally challenged people and come forward for their help both by showing empathy and by contributing some percentage of their wealth for welfare of these people.

Author is MBBS-MD, Diploma in drug de-addiction can be mailed at arifmaghribi@yahoo.com

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