By our correspondent

A child’s healthy development depends on their parents—and other caregivers who act in the role of parents—who serve as their first sources of support in becoming independent and leading healthy and successful lives.

The mental health of parents and children is connected in multiple ways. Parents who have mental health challenges, such as coping with symptoms of depression or anxiety (fear or worry), may have more difficulty providing care for their child compared to parents who describe their mental health as good.

Caring for children can create challenges for parents, particularly if they lack resources and support, which can have a negative effect on a parent’s mental health. Parents and children may also experience shared risks, such as inherited vulnerabilities, living in unsafe environments, and facing discrimination or deprivation.

These views were expressed by the speakers during the one-day international symposium on “bridging the gap between generations: parenting matters in mental well-being” organized by the Department of Psychology University of Karachi at the Arts Auditorium on Monday.

The KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi expressed that if there were good parenting endorsed in the children then there would be no incident of Sialkot. He observed that we can only prevent Sialkot-like tragedy permanently if we pay special attention to the early training of children because no one can save the country from degradation if violent incidents are common in societies. Such unfortunate and unwanted situations occurred when people suffer from mental issues.

He advised that society has to work a lot on the initial training of the children and mentioned that we should seriously care about the mental wellbeing of a person. He believes that mental health is correlated with a physical health problem and informed the audience that he has witnessed that if people are not engaged in physical activities they develop mental health issues.

“People believe that their child should go in a good profession but I believe that firstly a person should be a good human being and that is why work on the initial training of the children is very important.”

Meanwhile, the President World Psychiatric Association Professor Dr Afzal Javed during his online keynote address on ‘future trends of global mental health’ said that several countries of the world have started observing Covid-19 mental health issues, especially those facing continuing conflicts and economic crisis like Pakistan, and mentioned that it was the right time that the mental health institutes and this important area of medical sciences were provided with ample resources to deal with the upcoming pandemic of mental health issues. We should value every mental health professional in our society.

Another speaker, the meritorious Professor Dr Iqbal Afridi talked about ‘post Covid-19 repercussions and mental wellbeing’ and said that now people have started investing in their mental health. He mentioned that to achieve their good physical health and mental wellbeing people should start doing exercise to prevent themselves from obesity, stop using drugs, and reduce their use of mobile phones and computers to stay mentally healthy.

Talking about Covid-19 related health issues, he said the coronavirus anxiety and phobia, as well as touch-deprivation phenomenon, were some of the pandemic-related mental issues which were affecting the lives of people.

Dr Mujeeb Shad from OHSU USA highlights ‘the rise of cravings for drugs and lethal adventures in a young generation’ and addressed that factors that contribute to the emergence of substance abuse in the pediatric population are multifactorial.

He shared behavioral, emotional, and environmental factors that place children at risk for the development of substance abuse may be remediated through prevention and intervention programs that use research-based, comprehensive, culturally relevant, social resistance skills training and normative education in an active school-based learning form.

Earlier, the KU Dean Arts and Social Sciences Professor Dr Nusrat Idress said that social and community pressures are also a great cause of various pathologies being seen in youth that is why it is extremely important to resolve these issues.

She further said that mental health is all about how we think, feel, and behave. It affects our daily life activities, relationships, work pursuits, and even physical health at every stage of life. The individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community. The parents in these situations play an important role in the way they raise a child will depending upon how mentally healthy he would be as an adult.

The Chairperson Department of Psychology Professor Dr Qudsia Tariq shared that during the Covid-19 it came up that there were a lot of issues between the parents and children, there was a communication gap, and a lot of expectations may be attached with the children.

“Young Children were diagnosed with depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm .parents were unable to manage the situation, and they were facing a lot of mental health issues. Their frustration was deteriorating the situation, child management during this period became the big challenge for the parents, extent helping hand and awareness.”

She mentioned that the importance of mental health cannot be denied but still stigma prevails and tendency to see mental health exist as a result of sin but not a medical issue. In these circumstances, the parent invalidates and denies the feelings of the child as the misconception prevalent in the community.

The former chairperson of the department Professor Dr Farah Iqbal expressed that we cannot compare ourselves to others, we have to be resilient and patient and think before developing any perspective. Patience is the key solution. It is mutual work that children and parents are doing.

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