Webinar, “Addressing Mental Health During COVID-19”

On 21st July 2020, THE PLATFORM by CGSS, Islamabad organized a webinar on, “Addressing Mental Health During COVID-19” to discuss the mental health issues faced by various segments of society during COVID-19 and how to improve mental health by effectively dealing with the issues faced.
Ms. Mehreen Gul, Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), commenced the webinar and stated that Stress and Anxiety have emerged as major health problems during the pandemic. She highlighted maintaining isolation as one of the major reasons for the widespread anxiety and depression. Ms. Gul also stressed the importance of addressing psychological distress through raising awareness.
Dr. Sumira Bukhari, Head of Department, Associate Professor Psychiatry, Department of SIMS/ Services Hospital, Lahore discussed the different factors that lead to mental stress. Dr. Sumira also mentioned that due to Emotional Issues, Relationship Issues, and the overall mental health issues, people are not being able to perform effectively in their professional lives. Furthermore, she explained that there are many online platforms available where students can seek help and discuss their issues.
Dr. Ali Madeeh Hashmi, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, King Edward Medical University, Lahore discussed that mental health has become a concern and issues of national security during COVID-19. He also discussed the online app available for seeking help during mental stress. Furthermore, Dr. Hashmi also signified the need to increase the funding required to deal with the mental health issues in Pakistan.
Dr. Rafia Rafique, Director, Institute of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore gave a detailed overview of the impact of COVID-19 on students. She stressed that “It is Okay To Not Be Okay” during the pandemic and asking for help while facing mental health issues is perfectly fine. Dr. Rafia also mentioned a few of the online programs initiated by the Punjab University for the guidance and help of the students.
Ms. Urooj Raza Sayyami, Senior Journalist explained the role of media during the COVID-19. She also suggested various strategies that can be adopted by our media to lessen the mental stress of viewers during COVID-19. Furthermore, she stressed that people should avoid believing in fake news and rumors to stay safe from mental pressure.
Mr. Ali Ilyas, Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health Consultant enlightened the concept of Thinking Traps. Moreover, Mr. Ali explained how thinking traps affect the daily decision-making ability of individuals. He also discussed various useful strategies to deal with these thinking traps that add anxiety and stress and suggested students to start journaling their thoughts.
Ms. Minahil Asif. Medical Student and Motivational Speaker, emphasized on the importance of discussing mental health. She further elaborated that there are many stigmas attached to mental health and to seeking help. These issues should be openly discussed and solved. She further gave useful suggestions to students for dealing with mental stress and anxiety.
The session was attended by 50 participants from diverse backgrounds and was moderated by Ms. Laraib Fatima Hassan, Digital Media Executive, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad.

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