Minister of State for Health, Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar chaired the first meeting of the Task Force on mental health. The Minister on this occasion said that the issues of right discrimination and exploitation by non professionals of people with mental health and mental disorders need be addressed by better awareness and education of the mass public on mental health issues.
Minister of State said that government is committed to improve the services for mental health at all hospitals to ensure the provision of better medical care to mentally retarded people. Saira Afzal Tarar said that government is fully aware of need for extra care of people with mental disorders and mentally retarded people so the government will take every possible step to provide them extra care.
The task force has been formed with representatives nominated by all provinces. The Minister informed during the meeting of members of Task Force that people with mental health problems and mental disorders are particularly vulnerable to infringement of their civil and human rights and to discrimination and exploitation by non professionals .This issue needs be addressed by better awareness and education of the mass public on mental health issues.
The Minister of Health wished to establish a frame work for the protection of their rights and civil liberties of the mentally ill in terms of a guideline document to be sent to all areas of Pakistan.
The new oriented approach to the provision of mental health services has demanded the establishment of a new relationship between mental health services and the wider health sector. The national policy advances the position that mental health services should be part of the mainstream health system and promotes the provision of acute inpatient care within general hospital settings.
It is argued that this strategy will, increased access to mental health services and help to reduce the stigma attached with mental health problems and mental disorders. The mainstreaming of mental health services should also result in more decentralized mental health services closer to family, community and cultural networks. Provinces and regions especially lacking services will be the main focus.
She further highlighted that progress in achieving improved outcomes in mental health depends on adequate research into the causes of mental health problems and mental disorders and the evaluation of the effectiveness of different modes of service delivery.
Pakistanis rightly expect that their mental health services will be of a high standard. The national policy recognizes the need for an increase in research and evaluation studies in the mental health area and for the development of strategies for monitoring national outcome standards.
The Minister said that the public has remained largely uneducated about mental health problems and mental disorders. This situation needs to be redressed by disseminating information on the types and effects of these conditions, their prevalence in the community, treatment methods and prevention.
In this way, people with mental health problems and mental disorders will be better understood, experience less stigma and discrimination, and have better access to general community life. She mentioned that attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of high quality mental health staff are the best ways of ensuring good practice and service standards.
The Minister stressed the need to ensure that all Pakistanis with mental health problems and mental disorders have similar rights and expectations about the mental health treatment they will receive. The national policy recognizes that the provinces legislation needs to be consistent.
Prof Rizwan Taj Focal person of Mental Health at the Ministry gave a detailed presentation on a mental health Policy document which was deliberated upon by all provincial representatives and accepted with some changes.
At the end of the meeting the minister assured to the participants of meeting her full support for the implementation of the recommendations.