Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Let’s remove the stigma from mental health issues

Our readers have their say about neuropsychiatric disorders, Dubai Shopping Festival and political leaders

Depression affects one in four people (stock photo)
Depression affects one in four people (stock photo)

Regarding your column When it comes to mental health, you need to trust your gut (December 16), mental illness affects thousands of people in Pakistan, where I am from. Social stigma and shame are experienced by most patients suffering from any type of mental illness or neuropsychiatric disorder. This situation always creates more difficulties for the patients and make it harder for them to recover.

We must remember that one in every four people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. About 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental health issues.

Most neuropsychiatric patients can recover completely or are able to manage their illness, especially if they get help and medical intervention early on. But unfortunately, most people experience discrimination. During my studies and research in the field of public healthcare, I have observed many neuropsychiatric patients whose problems are made worse by the discrimination they experience, not just from society but also from their families, friends and employers. Nearly three out of every four patients with a mental illness report that they have experienced social stigma.

This situation brings feelings of shame, blame, hopelessness, distress, loneliness, isolation and social exclusion. That can worsen a person’s illness and lead to a hesitancy and reluctance to seek proper treatment or to accept necessary help.

Mental health issues are common. Let’s dispel the myth that they are caused by personal weakness or a character flaw. In fact, they are triggered by a complex interaction and interplay of genetic, organic, biological, social and environmental factors. Seeking treatment for mental illness and accepting help is a sign of strength.

Dr Faisal Khan, Al Dar Hospital Madina Munawara, Saudi Arabia

'Tis the season to be jolly (and to go shopping)

I adore and admire the numerous festivals and occasions taking place in Dubai one after the other.

With Christmas around the corner, we have Dubai Shopping Festival to look forward to in just a few days. Every year, DSF just gets ­bigger and better. It started off in 1996 and has grown massively since. It’s a perfect example of how this city keeps going from strength to strength.

Mathew Litty, Dubai

Where are the great political leaders of our time?

I write with reference to Sholto Byrnes’ article Where have all the good statesmen and women gone? (December 18), which was well-written and important. In his comparison of the quality of political leaders, it is very clear that truly impressive politicians have become a rare commodity.

This vacuum needs to be filled.

K Ragavan, Bengaluru

Updated: December 18, 2018 08:21 PM