“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Zeenat sees very little emphasis by authorities on mental healthcare in a valley full of anguish and lawlessness

(Ms. Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil, 27, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She did her schooling from King George (Mumbai) and later Cambridge (New Delhi), and received her Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Kashmir in 2008. Presently, she is also pursuing her second Masters degree in Mass Communications through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In 1998, she began her career as a freelance journalist with leading national newspapers and simultaneously joined ‘Fazil Kashmiri Publications’ as Editor and Publisher, and is also an editor of the ‘Focus’. Ms. Fazil has written a book on Mass Media and Linguistics (2006), and ‘Falcons of Paradise'(2009), a reference book contains 100 Eminent Personalities of J&K starting from 14th century till date. After working for ‘Daily Etaalat’- a Srinagar based Newspaper in 2007-2008; she joined ‘Daily Kashmir Images’ as a Senior Correspondent by the end of 2008. She is also currently associated with ‘Charkha’, a foundation that highlights the developmental concerns of marginalized section of Kashmiri society particularly in rural areas and to draw out perspectives on women through their writings. Ms. Fazil is also associated with ‘Interchurch Peace Council Netherlands’ which is intensely involved in several conflict areas such as in Kashmir. In 2009, she joined the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA). She has received numerous awards for her meritorious contribution in the field of literature. Her interests are reading, writing, poetry, music, travel,and gender related topics.)

Kashmir Lacks Mental Health Programmes

Srinagar: Despite increase in the graph of juvenile crimes in Kashmir, there are very less provisions of mental health programmes or counseling for the youth of the valley to control the crime rate.

Unlike other places which have school mental health programmes and counseling for children and youth to fight the menace of juvenile crime and delinquent behavior, Kashmir has very little options available.

As per experts, none of the schools, colleges or universities in Kashmir has counseling programmes for students. As per social activist and lawyer, Abdul Rashid Hanjoora, juvenile crime has increased in the past more than two decades of turmoil and if we go with the latest figures, it is much higher than those of 2011.

“In order to curb such crimes, there is a desperate need for long term programmes at a massive scale”, he suggested.

“Despite recommendations by different commissions for the implementation of mental health programmes or counseling in the Valley, we still don’t have regular and organized counseling or mental health programmes in schools, colleges and higher institutes of learning,” said educationist and psychologist, Prof A G Madhosh.

Studies have shown that more than two decades of armed conflict has played a major role in psychological ailments like Schizophrenia, depression and neurotic problems.

In order to make such programme effective, Madhosh says, “need of the hour is to implement these at two stages: one is at school, college and higher education level and two at mental health hospitals.”

“Counseling at school, college and university level can reduce the juvenile crimes drastically. School level counseling can help in understanding the attitude of children at young age. If anything delinquency is found, it can be treated at the right time,” said he.

Prof Madhosh said that trained counselors should be appointed in educational institutions with varying roles at different levels.

He said that if a child is facing conflict with his friend, family, parents or within himself, it can be traced well in advance and will not develop into criminal behaviors.

As far as mental health hospitals go, “manpower (doctors, psychiatrists, nurses etc) needs to be increased”, he said.

Noted psychiatrist, Dr. Mushtaq Margoob says that mental health is integral to overall health and well-being and should be treated with the same urgency as physical health. “Mental illness can influence the onset, progression and outcome of other illnesses and often correlates with health risk behaviors such as substance abuse, tobacco use and physical inactivity. Depression has emerged as a risk factor for such chronic illnesses as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and can adversely affect the course and management of these conditions”, added Margoob.

However, he added that, “the District Mental Health programmes are going on at different places. We have outlets at Mental Health Hospital (MNH) Rainawari, SKIMS (Soura), JVC, SMHS hospital where such special programmes are going on. In MNH Rainawari we have started a programme in which psycho- emotional problems of an individual are being taken care of without prescribing drugs.”