Srinagar, Oct 9: With the annually observed World Mental Health Day focusing on physical and mental health of the people around the globe, experts in Kashmir have a message for the people, who have been psychologically hit by the years of conflict in the region: there is no health without mental health.
The message, underlined by the psychiatrists, also makes it amply clear that the physical and psychological health issues were highly interlinked. This incidentally forms the basis of the theme of this year's World Mental Health Day being observed across the globe on October 10.
According to the World Health Organization, the World Mental Health Day on 10 October raises public awareness about mental health issues. "The Day promotes more open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention and treatment services. The treatment gap for mental, neurological and substance use disorders is formidable especially in poor resource countries," reads the WHO website. "Physical and mental health are intertwined. There is a real need to deal with mental health problems of people with chronic physical illnesses and physical care of mental health consumers through a continued and integrated care."
According to Kashmir's noted psychiatrist, Dr Mushtaq Margoob, the years of conflict in Kashmir and the essentiality of the well-being of people had made it imperative to focus on their mental health. "We have had a generation of people who have seen the worst of the times. They are now getting into their adulthood. So keeping that in view, it is time to address the issues concerning mental health in Kashmir for the well-being of the affected people," Dr Margoob told Greater Kashmir. "This year's theme is the mental health and physical illnesses. There is a realization that both these issues are interlinked. For example, somebody with psychological disorder is more likely to develop cardiac problems or somebody with diabetes is prone to be a victim of depression. That is the reason that we, as part of the theme, need to take a holistic view of the quality of life in its real perspective."
Dr Margoob, who heads of the Psychiatry Department at the Government Medical College here, asserted that it was essential to raise awareness among the stakeholders about mental health issues. "And we also need to revitalize the otherwise defunct support systems and coping mechanisms for the betterment of these patients. The support systems include different components like the family support, traditional care and love and also the concept of selflessness," he said.
Dr Margoob said they had taken up the task to aware people. "It is not only the government agencies which can contribute in this, but everyone had to come forward, including the medicos so that we have a network of mental health workers. Ironically, we have so far failed to prude a single nurse to take care of the mental health victims. So all that needs be done and we at GMC are working in that direction," he said.
According to the non-governmental organization, Medecins Sans Frontiers, there was no health without mental health. "Mental health symptoms need not be life disabling and are treatable with professional help," said the project co-coordinator (Kashmir Project) of the MSF, Sasha Matthews, who has been working in mental health sector in the Valley for quite sometime now.
He said: "There is no need to have a stigma attached to the mental illnesses. There is no health without mental health and this is what people need to understand.
The MSF has been working in Kashmir for the past 10 years, holding different awareness camps and workshops with regard to the mental health. "The state government also needs to promptly adopt the National Mental Health Programme. We are ready to provide all the possible support in this endeavor," Sasha said.