The Deplorable Plight Of Women’s Mental Health In Pakistan

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Often born along with the wails of elderly saying “Haye larki paida hogayi hai” and dying with people worried about who is gonna take care of the house now. How can we expect women to stay sane? Unfortunately, even in 2021 women in Pakistan are suffering from things that the rest of the world would call inhumane. If you are reading this, you are one of the few lucky women who have the time and freedom to do so. The rest are either busy serving their in-laws and still getting scolded or don’t even have access to mobile phones. The deeper you look, the better insight into the deplorable conditions that women are living in, you will get. This obviously translates to women’s mental health.

Learn all about women’s health. 

To get an idea of women’s mental health in Pakistan, let’s learn about what they go through in their life. Starting from their birth, they are born with the stigma of being a girl. They are often despised by their families for the very reason. Growing up, they see the difference in the treatment with their brothers and them. From never getting the leg ki boti- a sign of respect in many Pakistani households, to never getting to sit on the dining table because they are supposed to serve, women are made to feel less of themselves. Often getting married without actual consent and forced to live with the often very toxic in-laws, they are stripped of their right to choose.

Then they are set to spend the rest of their lives serving their husbands and in-laws, without expecting a word of gratefulness from them. This unpaid labor takes a toll on their mental health too. Then they get very short-lived respect if they give birth to a son. Then finally a daughter is born and the vicious cycle starts again.

Not everyone’s situation might not be as dark as mentioned above but there is no denying that no matter how privileged women become they will always be inferior to their male counterparts. A daughter will always be treated differently than a son and a husband will have far more rights than the wife. Living through all this, how do we expect women to not get any mental health issues? Hence the difference between the prevalence of mental health issues in men and women in Pakistan.

The Gender Gap

The difference in living standards among the men and women in Pakistan also translates to their health status, especially mental health. According to a 2017 article in the express tribune, Pakistani women suffer from more mental health issues than their male counterparts. They lose twice as many disability-adjusted life years (DALY) to depression than men.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Women in Pakistan lose nearly 1.2 million total DALYS to depression. This number is 495,000 DALYs more than men. The gender gap in the case of anxiety is somewhat similar too, with women losing over 376,700 total DALYs to anxiety while men lost approximately 212,000 DALYs, in 2013.

Reasons For Poor Women’s Mental Health

Women are often expected to remains within their homes and devote their lives to others. This itself is a reason enough for the prevailing mental health issues in women in Pakistan.

The Gender discrimination

Irrespective of your gender you all must have noticed the very evident gender discriminations in Pakistani households. This discrimination from birth takes a toll on one’s mental health. Being made feel less important or worthy, not getting enough opportunity, and always getting neglected is the main reason behind the gap between depression and anxiety in men and women.

Lack Of Social Life

Usually, women in Pakistan stay at home and have no social circle other than immediate family. Their lives revolve around their family only, not even themselves. For how long can a person stay in confined walls, caring for others. Mental health issues in such cases are inevitable. Especially now that a part of our society is becoming more progressive and a part stull remains suppressed. This creates a feeling of admiration and longing, which if prolonged can take a toll on one’s mind.

The Stigma Around Mental Health

The stigma around mental health in men and women of Pakistan is more or less the same. In fact, men are more pressured to stay strong and ignore what they feel. Women on the other hand are often pestered into thinking that they are supposed to feel week and helpless, they don’t need any medical attention for that.

The stigma around mental health in Pakistan has pushed mental patients into a dark abyss. Only removing this stigma can help thousands, irrespective of their gender.

Another added pressure that women may face, is the family talking, as there is no denying that women face the brunt of the toxic family culture in Pakistan more than men.

The Bottom Line

Usually, the cure to a problem is to treat it from the root. Unfortunately, the roots of this disease will take years to be cured. Your mind and health cannot wait for that long. So your first step should be to work for self-healing. Your job can wait, the dinner to be cooked can wait, your husband can look after your kids but nobody can look after you better than yourself. So it is high time that you realize the problem and consult a psychologist. There is no shame in it. You are not mad, you are not overreacting, you are not being overly emotional. You just need help and you can get that with just a click. Women’s mental health needs as much importance as any other health issue.

Unfortunately, I cannot reach many women in Pakistan, but to those whom I can, I am eager to help.

FAQ’s

1. Do men suffer from depression too?

Yes, depression can attack anyone irrespective of gender, class, and age.

2. Does feeling sad mean you are depressed?

No, you can feel sad otherwise too. You will have to check the symptoms of depression to get a better idea about your condition.

3. How can you treat depression on your own? 

You can work to lessen the symptoms of depression but severe depression is a medical condition and requires medical attention.

Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with top psychologists in Pakistan through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online appointment booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.

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Hiba Batool
She is a nutrition graduate from Kinnaird College, Lahore. She is a nutritionist by profession. Her interests lie in medical research and writing. She masters in all topics related to nutrition and health.