Prof. Dr. Shehzad highlights factors behind Mental Health Illness

Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy, Professor Dr. Shehzad Ali Khan has revealed the secrets of Mental wellbeing in a stressful world.

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BY: Dr. Roshneck Hameed Khan

Talking to Country News, Program Health Views with Dr. Roshneck Hameed Khan, Mr. Shehzad said various factors causing the disease as its reasons varies from childhood to an elderly age. As per its ratio 20 percent of Global population facing the issue while in Pakistan the number of affected people is over 24 million and need psychological treatment. Quoting current trend in the disease, he said cognitive stress and tension are among top Mental Health issues.

There are many causes by which mental health problems are rising in Pakistan, as everyone is involved in some sought of stress depending on age and work. The other main cause of mental health is your food, hormones are directly linked to food we take, sleep is another important factor which can lead to mental health problems.
Responding to a question whether Pakistan’s educational system has any relation with Mental Health disease, the Professor said we have different categories in educating students like some schools teaching how to rule – that is given to pupils hailing to upper class and officer level. Other Schools teaching about obedience while some are just awarding certificates. Taking divided educational system into account, he said such classification cannot be ruled out from causing Mental illness.
In the health and education field, the government should not only focus on delivering services but should also focus on improving its quality, governance and maintaining the standard. The private department or any NGO can’t do this, it is the responsibility of the government as a whole to check the services in the field of health and education are standard and well regulated. Work has been done on this in the recent past on outsourcing, public paid partnership, contracting out programs in schools and colleges, universities and in health departments. Some good work has been done in the last 10 years and we hope it will get better in the near future.
In rural areas religious myths about mental health were common but the trend has changed now. Faith healers and spiritual healers are very common not only in Pakistan but across the world. In foreign countries, people use faith or spiritual healing, but the problem starts when someone believes only in spiritual healing and ignores medicines.
If somebody believes in spiritual healing and if this belief gives him confidence over controlling emotions and enables will power then it is also kind of psychiatrists is called CBT, Cognitive behavioral therapy. In this therapy, the patient shares problems with the doctor and he gives him confidence to overcome problems, but this is widely misused. Ignoring medicine and solely believing in one thing is making it worse. In addition to medicine if you go to spirituality then it is good but we need to cut out what some healers use ridiculous physical acts like putting nails in the head.
There are different symptoms in children and old age people. If a child starts to speak less. Whenever there is a mental health issue, we see changes in our daily life routine. Some people go into aggression.
He added, if someone see any man or woman going into extra aggression, you need to sit and talk with him or her. You don’t need to go to a physiatrist straight away, you can go to any medical doctor and have a checkup. As we know here, we have a lot of morbid diseases. We have diabetes, high blood pressure. High cholesterol levels, heart related diseases are high, gastro trouble is also high, by all these common diseases are also becoming a cause to mental health disturbance. So, we should do proper medication to these diseases so that our mental health remains safe and sound.
If the above -mentioned diseases are not there and the person is showing unexpected aggression, then definitely it is a mental health issue and you need to go to a physiatrist.
For the common man, understanding symptoms is very important. If you see any person, talking less than routine, or showing extra aggression, unusual fighting these are main symptoms, He added, in children, mental health issues are rising also. Less attention in school, not interest in studies, and feeling burden of school work are main symptoms. The main thing in mental health issues is that we should not take it as a stigma. We related mental health issues with mental hospitals, having mental health issues should not be treated as crazy people. That is another thing and we should separate both from each other.
Dr. Shahzad said if anyone can have depression or anxiety and relating this to craziness is definitely wrong. Every person experience depression or anxiety in his life period, from childhood to old age it can happen at any time, but we don’t talk about it and that is why this type of programmes are important. There is no wrong in talking about it and taking advice from anyone. And first of all, share with family as they are close to you, and we should avoid making it a stigma. We should treat people with mental health issues with love and affection as tomorrow you can be on the other side of it.
Responding to a question he added the main problem nowadays we are facing is that it is not diagnosed easily because of not revealing it to family or doctors. It is manageable to treat mental health till a few months or years. And when it goes out of ha, we say psychosis or advanced level of psychiatric problems. Then they go out of control. Before reaching that level, we should take guidance as early as possible.
Dr. Shahzad said today, we have modern medicines, physiologists as well as physiatrists are available for treatment, behavioral therapists are there, and it is now a developed field in the world as well as in Pakistan. During adolescence, it is natural and very common, hormones tend to change, body shape tends to change, and sometimes we say it is a disease in teenagers, but I must say here it is found all over the world, not only in Pakistan. When a child goes into adolescence, chemical changes are happening in his/her body, it is a natural phenomenon. It is important for parents to talk to their adolescent children about this process. Fathers should talk with their sons and mothers to their daughters and educate them about this. Teachers can also educate students, male teachers to boys and female teachers can help girls. I think parents and Grandparents are the most important people to educate their children about this process.
Children should also discuss this with parents but parents are the first and most important persons who should convey this to their children. It is better to get the right information from the right person than getting the wrong information from the wrong person. And it has its own consequences.
Family values are the most important Precautionary measures. We all have to support each other in a family. In family there is not a problem of creating a stigma also. First discuss with family then go to a counselor if required.
Meal timings are also important, we have disturbed our meal timings and sleep period due to different reasons be it social media or partying etc.
He said, we don’t have enough sleep, we don’t have a good diet, and we are not having any type of exercise. There is no place for exercise today. Dr Shahzad added, we should understand the concept of a healthy diet. If you google My Plate, you will get, it includes Desi type of food, and curd and some fruits,
Have a diversified type of food, don’t take 1 type of food, use a variety of food and these are not that much costly. And we have this variety available at our homes. Have physical activity, walk a minimum of 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Have a meal 3 times a day on proper time. Early morning, mid-day and before sunset. Sleep 7-8 hours are normal and important, DPAS diet physical activity for stress.
90% of mental stress can be treated by managing diet and physical activity and it is used across the world. It is not important to go to gym also; gym has its advantages like muscle building but we recommend 30 minutes of cardio that will increase heartbeat. Minimum 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. It is 150 minutes of exercise a week is must and it has many advantages, it is helpful for physical as well as mental health.

Dr. Shahzad Ali khan is renowned Health Care Professional, and Vice Chancellor of Health Services Academy Islamabad.

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