Combating Mental Sickness: An Appeal for Mental Health Association in Gilgit-Baltistan

Aaliya Moula Dad

My mind is stroked by many questions when I think about the rising death tolls attributed to suicides across Gilgit-Baltistan. I always wonder why people commit suicides. In fact, they might have many personal problems that we may not know. And there is no any need to know the root cause why somebody commits a suicide. Rather, we need to think critically and rationally in order to reduce the suicide rates across Gilgit-Baltistan. When somebody commits a suicide, we only feel sympathy for them. Even we blame that person sometimes stating that he/she should not have committed a suicide. Well, your empathy and sympathy means nothing to them if you cannot do anything for them when they are battling inside. One of the limitations that exist in all of us is our time management. We cannot give enough time to people in our circle. We do not even bother to ask how one person is doing. Even if you ask anyone how he/she is doing, their phrase will always be “I’m fine”. However, we rarely take a moment to check in with ourselves and see if that person is truly “fine.” As a result, we end up hearing terrifying stories about suicides from all regions of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Nonetheless, there can be many factors that cause suicide but I always ask questions like what is good mental health. How do we handle mental health challenges? Although I am not an expert in the field of mental health and medicine, and neither I am a psychiatrist. I just want to put emphasize on how we can promote good mental health and support the recovery of those living with mental illness through our services, workshops, and health initiatives. Indeed, those people who are battling with mental diseases may belong to your family, your community, and your whole society. Remember that our society’s primary caregivers are women who prioritize their family first and ensure that their husbands, brothers, sons and friends are taking care of their health, including their mental well-being. Perhaps, women might have highest probability of suffering from mental disorder as they have to face challenges both at home and in society. This is a difficult notion for women to concede to because we are hardwired to protect and stand guard over our families. But it’s important to protect our own mental health as well. Women are 40 per cent more likely than men to develop a mental illness, which is influenced by various social factors such as increased caregiving responsibilities. To all women, we also need to care for ourselves in order to better care for those around us. However, it is imperative for each one of you must become responsible and take care of your mothers, wives, and sisters. You need to be in communication all the time so that they get encouragement to look after you and your family.

When I studied various types of mental diseases and mental-aging disorders such as stress, schizophrenia, depression, insomnia disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s diseases, social anxiety phobia, and Parkinson diseases, I was shocked because these mental diseases are life-threatening stressors that put severe impacts on your whole body system. Remember that you’ve got only one life, and you’ve got only once chance to live. Once you are undergone through any of these diseases, you’re gone forever with least possibility of recovery. These diseases are as worse as cancer. Once these disease disintegrate your mental system, your whole body ruptures and collapses because they mental disorders dysfunction your brain system and damage brain cells, which grow rapidly as you grow older. When we discuss mental health, conversation often surrounds illnesses such as depression and anxiety. However, the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) is working to inform the public that brain-aging diseases like dementia are mental health issues as well, and should be treated as such. Mental illness should be considered more like a continuum, considering many types of cognitive impairment, with dementia and Alzheimer’s at the extreme end. This is why Mental Health Week is important, to dig deeper into these conversations and go beyond the surface of our general notions of mental illness. In addition to including brain-aging diseases in the classification of mental health issues, Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) aims to help individuals understand that you can encourage good brain health by managing stress and anxiety levels. Studies have shown that chronic levels of the stress hormone cortisol accelerate the onset of brain-aging diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Other lifestyle factors that you can manage that influence the health of your brain include diet, sleep and exercise. Therefore, I want to make this point here that we need to awake our stakeholders in order to promote mental health awareness across Gilgit-Baltistan. Because we believe that there is no health without mental health; it is therefore important that our stakeholders must support the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental health challenges. As a young ambassador, it is my message for our stakeholders to serve all members of our diverse society, providing community support services for those living with mental health challenges and providing education and mental health promotion services across Gilgit-Baltistan.

The contributor is a student at York University, Canada. 

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