Ziauddin University hosts seminar on Children’s Mental Health
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Ziauddin University hosts seminar on Children’s Mental Health

ZU on Children’s Mental Health

“In today’s society, it often feels like everyone is treated as a patient with mental illness. I believe life is not always fair, and while positive reinforcement is essential during a child’s growth, excessive expectations of constant positivity can lead to negativity and depression. Mental illness and underscoring the importance we need to prepare children from an early age to navigate the inevitable stresses of life, recognizing that life itself is a source of stress”, said Syed Irfan Haider, Vice-Chancellor, Ziauddin University. He was addressing the audience at the seminar “Nurtured Mind, Boundless Tomorrow: Children’s Mental Health Matters”, organized by the College of Clinical Psychology, Ziauddin University (ZU).

ZU seminar aimed to emphasize the significance of prioritizing child mental health, breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, and connecting children and families with the necessary support and resources to ensure the well-being of children.

Keep emphasizing the crucial role of early intervention, Dr Raman Kumar, Consultant Pediatrician, and Pediatric Neurologist said that early intervention, particularly through family support and education, is paramount for children aged birth to six years who have experienced or are at high risk for abuse and neglect. The intricate interconnection of cognitive, emotional, and social capacities throughout life underscores the significance of nurturing these aspects from an early age. It is vital to recognize that toxic stress can detrimentally impact the developing brain architecture, leading to enduring challenges in learning, behavior, and both physical and mental well-being.

In discussing the early detection of autism and the significance of recognizing red flags, Dr Shaista Ehsan, FCPS Pediatrics, and Associate Professor at Ziauddin University said that knowing the red flags and symptoms of early diagnosis, such as sleep disorders, feeding issues, gastrointestinal symptoms, toe walking, poor coordination, and attention and learning difficulties, is crucial. There are numerous risk factors associated with autism.

“According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it recommends screening every child for autism during their 18 and 24-month checkups. It is vital never to disregard parental concerns regarding developmental milestones. Early intervention paves the way for improved developmental outcomes”, she further stated.

While explaining the correlation between mental health and communication, Dr. Tahmeena Tabish from Ziauddin College of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences highlighted that “Speech and language-disordered children face a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders, with a clear correlation between the type of speech and language disturbance and the presence of psychiatric conditions. However, communication difficulties can serve as barriers to diagnosis and appropriate interventions. whereas the Causative factors may include parental relationships, screen time, environmental influences, and the absence of independent active free play.”

Earlier, in her welcome note, Dr. Shehla Najib Sidiki, Dean Faculty of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Ziauddin University said that our children are the future of our nation, and it is our responsibility to nurture them. We are witnessing a rising prevalence of mental health issues among children in Pakistan, such as depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders, which are adversely affecting their well-being.

“Today, I want to draw your attention to an issue that demands our immediate concern: the state of mental health in Pakistan. Despite the gravity of the situation, there exists a significant gap in understanding their mental health. It is crucial that we prioritize the mental health of our children and ensure that parents are equipped with the understanding and support necessary for their child’s well-being”, she added.

Other experts including Asma Hameed, Assistant Professor in Physical Therapy; Aoun Ali, Clinical psychologist, College of Clinical Psychology, Ziauddin University; Neelum Zehra, Consultant Occupational Therapist & HOD Occupational Therapist, Ziauddin College of Rehabilitation Sciences, also shared their valuable presentation in the Child Mental Health Awareness seminar.

Related: ZU Dialogues presents “NURSES: A VOICE TO LEAD”

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