Domestic Violence Contributing to Depression, Mental Illness

Fri Nov 11 2022
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By Asma Kundi

ISLAMABAD: Mother of two children and a survivor of domestic violence, 40-years-old Kinza Nazish was again falling prey to depression.

This time, her husband refused to pay her monthly expenses, including the school fees for their children. Kinza’s husband lives abroad and used to abuse her on the phone. Whenever he wants to torture her, he stops paying their kids’ school fees and sending monthly expenses. “He does so because he is away and can’t beat me up after getting angry about minor issues,” said Kinza.

While living in a toxic relationship with her husband for around 12 years, she has become a mental patient with recurrent bouts of depression. She shared that after every two years, her husband visits Pakistan and, on minor issues, beats her, but she is bearing all this mental and physical torture for the sake of her children.

She is an educated lady and knows about her mental illness but never thought of consulting a psychiatrist as she fears getting a label of ‘mental patient’. “Whenever my depression gets deepened, I take refuge in prayer, and sharing my miseries and problems with my creator soothes the wounds I have on my soul. After a label as a characterless and ugly woman, I cannot afford to be called mad by my husband, therefore, I avoid doctors and I myself believe that such medicines couldn’t help but rather worsen my mental health,” she explained.

This case clearly indicates that more people now seem to be aware of mental health issues, but the stigma surrounding mental health still remains and stops them from seeking medical help.

On the other hand, the cases of mental disorder in Pakistan are rising with every passing day. According to the World Health Organization, in Pakistan, mental disorders account for more than 4 percent of the total disease burden, with the mental health burden higher among women.

It is estimated that 24 million people in Pakistan need psychiatric assistance. However, allocating resources for screening and treating mental health disorders is insufficient to meet the increasing needs.

According to WHO data, Pakistan has only 0.19 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the lowest numbers in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region and the world. This lack of mental health professionals in Pakistan creates a massive treatment gap, leaving more than 90 percent of people with common mental disorders untreated.

When contacted, Dr. Rizwan Taj, Chairperson Psychiatry Department at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), told the WorldEcho, “Yes, people do not accept that they have mental health issues they think they will be considered weak and people will make fun of and ostracize them, therefore, people are more comfortable putting their psychological distress into physical symptoms of pain aches, etc. They cannot verbalize their emotional distress.”

He said that people keep seeking advice from different physicians which don’t help, there is a need to create awareness that depression and mental illness are also diseases like other diseases and need proper medical assistance.

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