Anzar Mehraj: In Jammu and Kashmir, the prevalence of mental distress is alarmingly high, affecting nearly 1.8 million adults in the Kashmir Valley alone, which accounts for 45% of the population. This distress manifests in various forms such as anxiety, depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Schizophrenia, and more. It is evident that the region has been grappling with psychological disturbances for decades, primarily due to the prevailing conflict and the added burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A comprehensive study on mental health concerns in Kashmir has shed light on the fact that a greater proportion of the Kashmiri population suffers from mental illnesses compared to the national average. This dire situation necessitates the government’s urgent attention, demanding a serious commitment to promoting mental health services and encouraging individuals to seek the help they need.
However, the responsibility of addressing mental health issues does not rest solely on the government. It is imperative for civil society groups, NGOs, and all stakeholders in Kashmir to unite and create widespread awareness about mental health. Efforts should be made to ensure that the masses in Jammu and Kashmir have a comprehensive understanding of mental health and are encouraged to visit psychiatrists and counsellors without any stigma or shame.
Seeking help for mental illness should be treated no differently than seeking medical assistance for physical ailments like fever or common cold. Mental illness is just as much a sickness as any other, and it should not be associated with humiliation or weakness. Instead, it is crucial that we cultivate a supportive environment where individuals feel empowered to seek the help they deserve.
In this critical endeavor, it is essential for all of us to work together and extend our support to those at the forefront of the fight against mental health issues. By collectively acknowledging the importance of mental well-being and actively participating in efforts to destigmatize mental illness, we can foster a society that prioritizes and safeguards the mental health of its people.