Mental disorders occur when mental or behavioural patterns cause the individual to suffer or lose functionality in ordinary life. Causes of mental disorders are largely unclear but poverty and unemployment can be contributing factors.
Mental illness robs the patient of a normal life. Entire families are adversely affected when one member is mentally ill. Mental illness is an illness of the mind that needs prompt attention like any other organ of the body becoming ill. Modern pharmacology and new community approaches today have made treatment more holistic and effective for the patient to return to a functional life.
Worldwide, according to a study done by the scholars of Harvard School of Public Health and the World Economic Forum, the economic burden of the illness which affects the global economy is around $2.5 trillion. By 2030, it will increase to $6 trillion. This includes spending on psychiatric care which is a direct effect on economy and the fall out of the illness such as lost productivity which is an indirect effect.
Unlike other non-communicable diseases such as heart or diabetes which afflict the human at a later age in life, mental illness usually afflicts at a very early age in life. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, mental illness plays a role in 90% suicides that take place.
In Pakistan, it is estimated that 15 million people suffer from mental illness. In Karachi alone, there are more than 2 million mentally ill patients who need psychiatric treatment.
Mental illness is misdiagnosed, untreated, and often subject to religious and local superstitions, leading to ‘exorcisms’, or faith healers with spiritual solutions. Many families are financially drained from pursuing spiritual alternatives. Stigma and discrimination also add to the suffering of the patient as they avoid seeking proper psychiatric care.
Karwan-e-Hayat is a non-profit welfare organization, registered under the 1984 Companies Ordinance. Established in 1983 and certified by the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy, Karwan has worked diligently ever since in providing treatment and rehabilitation services to poor and indigent mentally ill patients. It is the only mental health NGO in Karachi that provides both outpatient and inpatient facilities.