Mental Health and the Future of Psychiatry

The Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS) together the with World Psychiatric Association (WPA) recently hosted a seminar titled “Mental health and the Future of Psychiatry" at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in Karachi.

WPA President Elect, Dr Afzal Javed and Emeritus Prof. Syed Haroon Ahmed were special guests at the Congress with speakers including PPS President, Prof. Iqbal Afridi; Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Queens University Canada, Prof. Nasar Sayeed Khan; and Dr. Nabila Farooq, Medical Director, Michigan, USA.

A range of participants including psychiatrists, JPMC faculty members, students, doctors, trainees and other mental health professionals were welcomed to the event by Prof. Afridi before then hearing from Dr. Nabila Abidi who spoke about recognising psychiatric issues (depression) in the same way as medical ailments. Following on, was Prof Nasar Sayeed who talked to the group about stigma in psychiatry. He highlighted how the often negative, but rarely accurate, depiction by media of mental illness, mental health professionals and care facilities had resulted in extensive damage to the profession, professionals and, most worryingly, the sufferers.

Prof. Afridi then went on to speak to the theme “Mental Health - Unlocking your Potential,” which discussed the importance of mental health, its components, application to our daily lives, mental faculties, learning, memory, cognition & metacognition (thinking about thinking). He emphasised the importance of intelligence versus memory and spoke about improving mental health through diet & lifestyle, while enhancing capabilities by tapping into human potential.

Finally, Dr. Afzal Javed presented on the “Future of Psychiatry: Needs, Opportunities & Challenges.” His presentation compared psychiatry to other medical fields and he clarified some of the misconceptions about psychiatric treatment, medications etc. He advocated for mental health needs to be evaluated on evidence - not on perceptions - and for changes in policies, changes in services and also more training and courses.

During the event, Dr Javed was also awarded the honour of “Most Distinguished Global Psychiatrist” by PPS - recognising his great services to social, transcultural, psychiatric research, etc.

Author: President PPS, M.Iqbal Afridi

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