Vox populi: The status of mental health in Kashmir
Mental health scenario continues to remain very grim in the valley of Kashmir for all obvious reasons. But what is shocking is the fact that, while we as a community, are well aware of the reasons for such and such conditions, we unfortunately haven’t been able to discussed about it openly. Having a mental illness and seeking treatment for it is still considered a taboo. According to a report by Doctors without Borders (MFS) in 2016, nearly 1.8 million adults- 45 percent of Kashmir’s adult population suffer from some form of mental distress. However, a whooping majority- 93 percent have experienced conflict related trauma. Kashmir Images reporter UFAQ FATIMA talked to some people to seek their opinion about the issue.
Uzra Zehra, Writer
Just like a sound body is important for a sound mind, a sound mind is a necessity for living a peaceful life. With impaired mental health there cannot be a sense of fulfillment in life.
Unfortunately, here in Kashmir we do not pay due attention to the fact that we need to be mentally sound. There is a kind of fear in our society that if one expresses his/her mental fluctuations he/she may be considered a mentally disabled person and may become ineligible for certain things like marriage. Like other body parts mind too can face fatigue resulting in depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other relevant disorders but it’s normal to get all these things in a rapidly changing world. Our biggest fear lies in the lack of acceptance that we suffer from such a thing. The need of the hour is to change our mindset regarding mental health and give ourselves a chance to be happy.
Andleeb Amin, Student
I have been dealing with anxiety disorders from many years now. I do not know who to talk to- to my emotionally unsupportive parents or to the doctor who prescribes medicines only. In Kashmir mental health is a vague concept and so is the behavior of others regarding it. The fear of getting stigmatized by people further aggravates the issue. If the sense of understanding and empathy prevails in this case, our place be so much better.
Khurshid Ahanger, Journalist.
Though it is not discussed often, especially not in family gatherings at least, the issue of mental health is always at the back of our minds. Growing up in a conflict zone is a traumatic experience. Here everyone carries a baggage of mental trauma. But things can get better if we come together and discuss it in our schools, colleges, universities and even at work places. Mental distress is curable but what makes it worse is the shame society has attached to it.
Mental health in Kashmir is a major issue which is not discussed in public domain often. People here usually avoid visiting a psychiatrist because of the social stigma attached to it. It is even worse when it comes to girls as mental health becomes matter of respect for the families when it comes to finding a match for our daughters and sisters. Knowing full well that such conditions are very common and need care more than medicine, we shouldn’t push it under the carpet and rather speak about it openly.
Nadeem Shah, student
Turing a blind eye towards mental health does not mean the problem shall disappear. Kashmir is facing crisis of mental health which needs our attention as a society and we must shun the attitude we have towards mental health and should encourage people with such issues to speak about it.
Farzana Nisar, Student
I have seen that a person with diabetes or any other problem receives proper treatment while the mental illness very rarely comes out of the four walls of a home. The stigma attached to it is so strong that even discussing it sends shivers down the spine. It is high time that we realize how drastic the situation can turn if the stigma and discrimination related to mental health is not reduced.
Waseem Dar, Student
Our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues to such an extent that many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about speaking regarding even the earliest symptoms. Some of them even do not consult a psychiatrist.
The more we talk about mental health the more possibilities will open to create awareness about mental health.