The Horrors Of Mental Damage

The Horrors Of Mental Damage
In 2014, Sahir Khan was at the age of seven, when he lost his parents and an elder sister in a terrorist attack. He survived in that attack but he was not strong enough to bear the aftershocks of that incident. Day after that, Sahir's mental health did not remain the same, he lost his memories. He didn't remember anything, the things which he remembered, is the whole scenario of that incident. After that incident till now Sahir Khan suffers from fear of people, police, ambulance and crowd. When Sahir Khan faces any of these, his condition becomes worse.

"Before this incident Sahir was a normal child like others. He was fond of cricket and was punctual in studies. But after that incident he is in constant stress, fear and anxiety. He fears from noise in the surroundings. He feels uncomfortable in a crowd,“ said Jamal Shah said, who is Sahir’s uncle.

“We have been living in a state of war since 2001, after the American attack on Afghanistan. War itself is a disaster, but the aftershocks of war totally damage someone's life. During this period Khyber PakhtunKhwa is on the top list of terrorism. Wars, blasts and terrorist attacks affect people's lives on a large scale all over the country,” added Shah.

A report published in World time magazine by Mohammad Bissam on October 22 2022 shows that since 2001, the war casualties are more than 80,000. This is a huge amount that directly and indirectly disturbs the whole cycle of society.

According to World Psychiatric Association research by RS Murty (2006) "war destroys communities and families and often disrupt the development of the social and economic fabric of a nation. The effects of war include long term physical and psychological harm to children and adults as well as reduction in human capital". This statement is true because here we have Sahir Khan who is the product of war consequences.

According to Center for Research and Security Studies, a research Institute in Islamabad, yearly report from 2015 to 2022, violence related casualties in Pakistan declined at a steady rate since 2015, plateaued somewhat in the year prior, but accelerated dramatically in 2022 again. Roughly it was increased to 42% in 2021, in which Pakistan suffered 853 fatalities and 1,690 injuries which are directly linked to violence-related incidents. Nearly 75% of all violence-related incidents were recorded from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  and Balochistan.

According to this research report terrorist violence touched new peaks in 2022. From 853 casualties in 2021, the figure jumped to 980 in 2022, which indicates a 15 percent rise in violence, from 512 terrorist incidents and counter-terror operations. The highest rise in violence was recorded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where fatalities went up from 399 in 2021 to 633 in 2022 which is nearly 59% rise in its ratio. Balochistan ranked second in this regard which recorded a marginal increase of 1% in violence. But this could not bring any relief in the region as it had the second highest number of fatalities all over the country.

In 2022 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan together suffered nearly 90% of all terrorist incidents across the country. The month of December emerged as the deadliest for the security forces that lost at least 42 personnel in dozens of attacks from the militants in both provinces.

According to psychologist Asma Umar, "Terrorism can have significant psychological impacts on children.”

Trauma: in which the Children exposed to terrorism may experience intense fear, helplessness, and horror, leading to psychological trauma. Anxiety and fear are also included: in which they may become anxious, develop phobias, and constantly worry about their safety and the safety of their loved ones.

Then we have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Which is characterized by persistent and distressing symptoms such as re-experiencing the event, avoidance, hyperarousal, and negative changes in mood and cognition.

Next is Disrupted development:  Terrorism can disrupt normal developmental processes. They may struggle with academic performance, have impaired concentration and memory, and experience delays in emotional and social development.

Behavioral problems: such as they may become aggressive, exhibit irritability, have difficulty controlling their emotions, or engage in self-destructive behaviors.

Asma further said that war-affected children are always in stress. They are in constant anxiety.

We notice that children of tribal regions (ex FATA and Malakand division), through our work with them, are not like other children. They’re always in stress and uncomfortable. Any unfamiliar noise, if a chair moves, or if a door bangs shut and with ambulance sirens they have some reaction. This is the result of their fear of the sound of planes, guns and blasts in war,” explained Abbas Khan, social activist, work for children rights.

The current government is also serious in this regard. They are taking various special initiatives for the mental health of children and citizens.

To engage stress and psychological ill people of the society the government is going to launch an application with the name of ‘Humraaz’. This app will allow citizens to make appointments with psychiatrists and psychologists and will be able to share issues they face in their lives and get appointments with such doctors.

Salman Sufi, head of the PM strategic reforms said that, “The aim of this app is to improve the life and mental health of the citizens who are suffering from deteriorating mental health. There are some government hospitals that are on board with their psychologists and psychiatrist along with some others non-government hospitals.”

He said that there are not enough psychiatrists and psychologists to assist people suffering from mental health issues. Due to terrorism, the current situations of the country, and some natural disasters majority of the people are in stress, anxiety, and depression. He added that Pakistan is an extreme level of planning in launching such initiatives.

According to the official data of child protection center Islamabad around 38 children are taken from Islamabad, 33 from Punjab, 13 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 1 from Azad Jammu, and Kashmir. their mental health and psychology are examined to be trained and treated in these centers.

According to the data provided by the Ministry Of Human Rights, child protection center has brought 103 children from different cities with their families after necessary intervention in years 2020 and 2021. According to them, 48 children were rescued from roads, streets, and other places.

According to Dr Ayesha Mian, the chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry at Agha Khan University, around 50 million people in Pakistan are suffering from mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and many others. Normally it is believed that the illness affects 15 to 35 million adults, which is approximately 10-20% of the total population. And 20 million children which is 10% of the population need mental health care.

From the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics about 57.9% of the population in Pakistan is composed of youngsters, which is under 21 years of age. Unfortunately, there is an alarming increase in mental health problems among this young generation, especially in those areas where most cases of war on terror are reported. And still, this is the most neglected area in the health field.