A seminar on ‘mental health in unequal world’ was held here at the Government College University Lahore on Tuesday where speakers highlighted increase in mental health diseases especially depression.

The speakers said exercise and healthy diet do not only keep people physically fit but is also vital in keeping them mentally healthy.

GCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr Asghar Zaidi chaired the seminar which was jointly organized by the University’s Psychology Department and Punjab Food Authority in connection with the Mental Health Day 2021.

“Mental illnesses are as old as human beings; earlier evil spirits had been blamed for them but as science the progress, their medical causes and treatments were found,” said Dr. Aneel Shafi, a noted consultant psychiatrist from Pakistan Institute of Mental Health

He also said the modern concepts which evolved about mental illness in the last 50 years are biopsychosocial model positing that biological (level of biochemicals in body), psychological (such as thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social (e.g., socioeconomical, socioenvironmental, and cultural) factors, all play a significant role in mental health and illness.

However, Dr. Shafi said the latest and postmodern research is about the prevention and treatment of mental health through exercise and healthy food intake. He said studies are underway on different food items and exercises which stimulates the release of chemicals in our brains and help elevates mood.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi said that diet and lifestyle can affect their mental health; people who overeat unhealthy foods and adopt inactivate lifestyle are at a higher risk of depression. “Keeping this in view, GCU has increased focus on participation of its students and faculty in sports and co-curricular activities to provide them an active on-campus life,” he added.

The Vice Chancellor said they had also activated tutorial groups; and tutors are assigned as mentors to all students for their career and mental counseling. “If a student has any issue, he can easily approach his tutor for the immediate redressal,” he added.

Punjab Food Authority Director General Rafaqat Ali briefed students about their crackdown on adulterated food items. He advised students to always study ingredients of any food item before its consumption.

GCU Psychology Department Chairperson Dr. Syeda Salma Hasan said by mental health in an unequal world mean that this world is unequal in terms of age, social diversity, intellectual disabilities and mental health problems, and the purpose of celebrating the Mental Health Day 2021 is to make the mental health services available to all the individuals.

She said the best thing is that mental health illness especially depression and stress are curable and we should not feel shy in seeking professional mental health services to restore our sense of wellbeing as mental health is important at each stage of our developmental journey of life.

The seminar was followed by an on-campus walk to raise awareness about mental health issues.

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