Friday Mar 18 2022
Web Desk

Are institutions in Pakistan taking mental health seriously?

Web Desk
Panellists speaking during a session at the Karachi Wellness Festival — Saaya Health
Panellists speaking during a session at the Karachi Wellness Festival — Saaya Health

  • Organisations speak about importance of mental health and wellbeing in Karachi Wellness Festival.
  • One of the organisations, Saaya Health, sheds light on some major needs and challenges of mental wellbeing.
  • Event concludes that it is the need of the hour to recognise the importance and holistic impact of wellness initiatives.

As a passionate initiative to provide a platform to all organisations working to improve the wellness and mental wellbeing of individuals, the Karachi Wellness Festival was held on Sunday.

It was attended by several mental health service providers, therapists, psychologists, and civil society members.

One of the companies aspiring to increase awareness about mental health services was Saaya Health.

It held an hour-long panel discussion on "Promoting Wellbeing in Organisations." The festival was held at Veritas Learning Circle, a school in Karachi.

The panellists included multiple figures from prestigious corporate institutions who used their expertise to discuss and shed light on prevalent issues surrounding mental health.

While the discussion explored the roles of different organisations in promoting wellness, it also extended to the challenges they faced and the future for the advocacy of wellbeing in institutions.

Focus on prevention

“A lot of organisations launched programmes focused on mental health following the COVID pandemic," said HR professional Jahan Ara. "There were growing stressors surrounding the pandemic and the resulting new way of life and work."

She added that a focus on mental health internationally made it easier to introduce initiatives in the workplace locally.

Jahan encouraged a system to collect data and statistics around wellbeing while ensuring anonymity.

"If I were to have access to data on the cause behind the issues to pinpoint the major common stressors, it could help in prevention,” she said.

Explaining her point, Jahan said that prevention is one of the two main aspects of wellbeing services, the other being coping mechanisms.

'Wellbeing has huge impact on employees' productivity'

Haya Malik, wellbeing lead at Bayer Pakistan Pvt Ltd, said that the wellbeing of an employee has a huge impact on their productivity.

She added that now employees seek help regarding their mental health willingly, despite the rigidity often found in the corporate sector. "We’ve seen a lot of success in terms of employee performance and the shift in peoples’ mindset."

Shaharbano Alvi, speaking of Bay View Academy’s Wellbeing Programme, shared that students have started voluntarily seeking help from the counsellors when they need it, albeit with some trepidation on occasion.

The initiative's impact was seen in students becoming more patient and better at controlling their anger with their teachers and peers.

Shaharbano noted that she also saw a change in teachers who, despite their reluctancy to give extra hours initially, now attend seminars in a lively way.

She added that schools should get guidance on how to get help so that they could deal with neglected children.

'Most vulnerable children can't access professional help'

While agreeing with Shaharbano on the need for legislation, Alizeh Valjee, Counsellor and Co-Founder at Saaya Health, discussed a prevalent issue in educational institutes.

“Sometimes the most vulnerable children can't access professional help due to consent," she said, suggesting that it might be unethical to treat a student who needs help but does not agree to receive it.

The panellists stated that a person's wellbeing impacts how they function and what they do.

The event culminated on the suggestion that it may be the need of the hour to recognise the importance and holistic impact of wellness initiatives.