Thousands attend the Mental Health Week in Kashmir

World Mental Health Day: 10th October

Thousands attend the Mental Health Week in Kashmir

Integrating mental health in basic healthcare reduces stigma

SRINAGAR: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) in collaboration with the Directorate of Health, J&K government, concluded its week long celebrations of the World Mental Health Day (10 October) in Kupwara and Srinagar. Thousands of people attended the Mental Health Week celebrations in Kashmir Valley.

Renowned Physician Dr. Allaqaband was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony organized at the SKICC in Srinagar on the World Mental Health Day. Mr. Martin Sloot, Head of Mission of MSF in India, Dr. G.A. Wani, Nodal Officer of National Mental Health Programme, Additional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr. Margoob, Psychiatrist, Govt Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Mr. Sasha Matthews, Project Coordinator, MSF-Kashmir, Mr. Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Kashmiri poet and Mr. Masood Hussain, noted artist, were among the dignitaries marking the closing ceremony of Mental Health Week at the SKICC.

From 5th to 10th October, Kupwara and Srinagar were the settings of a mental health camp, an art and poetry exhibition, live theatre based on MSF’s successful radio programme ‘Alaw Baya Alaw’ and screening of MSF videos in Kashmiri and English. Pupils from schools in Kupwara and Srinagar as well as students from the University of Kashmir entered an art and poetry contest on the theme of ‘dealing with challenges on one’s life’. Their work was showcased throughout Mental Health Week, with an award ceremony which took place at SKICC in Srinagar on the World Mental Health Day (10 October).

Mental health is an integral component of basic healthcare services MSF has been providing to people in Kashmir since 2002. There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of an integrated healthcare approach combining both mental and physical care. The multi-faceted mental health-related stigma and discrimination impedes access to existing mental health services for people in need. Therefore integrating mental health services into basic healthcare is also one of the most pragmatic ways to make mental health services accessible to those who need it most and reduce stigma and discrimination.

"I think that with this mental health camp in Kashmir, we contributed to an increased awareness of psychosocial problems in Kashmir. That was the most important aim. MSF has many more ideas to increase this awareness. The first one is that such a camp will now be organized yearly - where hopefully - more partners will be able to join. Another one is to facilitate the further implementation of the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) by organizing a round table discussion with all relevant key stakeholders" says Mr. Sasha Matthews, MSF’s project coordinator in Kashmir.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian medical aid organization working in more than 60 countries worldwide. In 1996, MSF received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development and in 1999 MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Pakistan Christian Post, Karachi, Pakistan
Citizen News Service (CNS) India/ Thailand
Bihar and Jharkhand News Service (BJNS)
Media for Freedom, Kathmandu, Nepal
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