The stigma of mental illnesses

“I am not able to see my own mistakes in interpersonal relationships, and then I always blame [the other person],” says Dr. Haroon Ahmed, talking about psychological self-defense mechanisms and emphasizing the importance of seeking help from medical professionals for the challenges we face in our mental health.

Dr. Haroon Ahmed is the President of the Pakistan Association For Mental Health (PAMH) who has been seeing patients since 1994 at his own practice in Clifton, Karachi.

Watch our conversation with him to hear his views on the incidence of mental health disorders (00:36); how therapy works (02:59), self-medication and the risk of drug dependence (03:46); and the importance of empathy in helping children cope with inherited mental health conditions (04:33).

“Our concept of mental illness is divided into two parts, either the person is thought to be possessed; or they are deemed as insane.”

Dr. Ahmed says that a person’s genetic construct in many cases plays a role in their likelihood of experiencing depression, but with an empathetic upbringing and familial support, children lean to cope with these genetic weaknesses.

Dr. Ahmed talks about the importance of verbalization in organizing a patient’s thoughts; consequently helping them understand and take responsibility for their own interpersonal shortcomings.

While there are a range of antidepressants people take for anxiety related disorders, Dr. Ahmed is concerned about the dangers of drug dependency that develop from patients’ self-medication, which leads to them seeking stronger doses, and consequently developing severe complications.

This interview is part of the VCast #MentalHappiness project, an initiative to sustain and normalize the conversation around one of the most relevant issues of our time, an attempt to eliminate misconceptions and stigmas on mental health that cause thousands of people to suffer in silence.

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