Public awareness of psychological problems in Pakistan

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-09-2019-0033
Pages35-45
Publication Date14 Feb 2020
AuthorWaqar Husain,Fayyaz Ahmed Faize
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health
Public awareness of psychological
problems in Pakistan
Waqar Husain and Fayyaz Ahmed Faize
Abstract
Purpose Awareness of psychological problems is essential to address the problems adequately. It
also contributes positivelyin the overall psychosocial well-being of a society. The rates of mentalhealth
literacy have been investigatedin many countries and have been found to be lower than expected.The
purpose of this study was to explore public awareness of psychological problems and psychological
treatmentin Pakistan.
Design/methodology/approach The current study explored the latest levelsof public awareness of
psychologicalproblems in the country by involving 3,500 respondentsfrom five major cities. The sample
of the studywas sufficiently rich to representPakistanis based on gender, age, education,profession and
income. Data were gathered from 3,500 respondents through interviews and a self-respondent
questionnaire.
Findings The study revealed that the awareness of psychological problems in Pakistan was 36 per cent.
Several significant variations were also found based on different demographic factors. The study also
revealed that 42.17 per cent of the respondents were aware of psychotherapy as a possible way of treating
psychological problems followed by their awareness of social support (17.29 per cent), medicine (16.74 per
cent), supernatural practices (6.29 per cent), religious practices (5.60 per cent) and self-help (3.57 per cent).
Practical implications As a result of the findings of unsatisfactory levels of public awareness of
psychological problems,this paper has implications for mental health practitioners and policymakersto
play theiractive part in improving the situation.
Originality/value The currentstudy is the first large-scale study in the country.
Keywords Pakistan, Mental health, Mental health literacy, Awareness of psychological problems
Paper type Research paper
Mental health literacy (MHL) is defined as knowledge of and beliefs about mental
disorders (Jorm, 2000). It further includes the ability of laymen to recognize mental
disorders and to be aware of its possible treatment. Awareness of psychological
problems or familiarity with mental disorders and its treatment helps a person to overcome
the stigma and get treated (Angermeyer and Dietrich, 2006;Burns and Rapee, 2006;
Zartaloudi and Madianos,2010).
Poor MHL has been considered a global problem (World Health Organization, 200 1). Several
researchers have studied the rates of MHL globally, e.g. Germany (Angermeyer et al., 2009),
Switzerland (Lauber et al., 2003), the UK (Furnham and Winceslaus, 2012), Africa (Ikwuka
et al., 2014)andAsia(Chen et al., 2000;Found and Duarte, 2012;Griffiths et al.,2006;Lam,
2014;Lam et al., 2010;Wong et al., 2012;Wong et al.,2011). Apart from the prevalence of
several mental disorders found in Pakistan (Husain, 2018), no earlier studies were conducted
which could provide detailed information on the levelof MHL. The WHO AIMS report on Mental
Health Systems in Pakistan [World Health Organization (WHO), 2009] provided information of
the existing mental health policies and facilities in the c ountry, hence did not assess MHL
among the public. Kausar (2005) measured MHL in Pakistan; yet the findings of her study
were only limited to depression and psychosis. Furnham and Hamid (2014) conducted a
Waqar Husain and
Fayyaz Ahmed Faize are
both based at the
Department of Humanities,
COMSATS University
Islamabad Islamabad
Campus, Islamabad,
Pakistan.
Received 30 September 2019
Revised 12 December 2019
13 January 2020
Accepted 13 January 2020
Ethical Statement: The ethical
approval was granted by the
departmental review committee
at the Department of
Humanities, COMSATS
University Islamabad, Pakistan.
All the procedures performed in
this study were in accordance
with the 1964 Helsinki
declaration and its later
amendments or comparable
ethical standards.
Conflict of Interest: The authors
have no conflict of interest with
the publishing journal.
Funding: The study was not
funded by any source.
Originality: The authors state
that the current study is original
and has not been submitted
anywhere else.
DOI 10.1108/MHRJ-09-2019-0033 VOL. 25 NO. 1 2020, pp. 35-45, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1361-9322 jMENTAL HEALTH REVIEW JOURNAL jPAGE 35

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