Muhammad Omar Larik ( 2nd Year MBBS Student, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. )
Zoha Khan ( 2nd Year MBBS Student, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. )
Maryam Urooj ( 2nd Year MBBS Student, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. )
Madam, Inflation describes the increment in the cost of living over a certain period, occurring in light of extreme events that impact the economy. The current wave of inflation results from the coalition of events mainly stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, producing a myriad of economic disruptions. Rising food insecurity, hikes in electricity prices, and fuel costs leave families facing an unprecedented financial crisis. Moreover, the turmoil created by the recent flooding due to record-breaking rainfall affecting Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has fuelled the current inflation wave in Pakistan. The impact of such issues can be devastating in multiple respects.
The convulsion of the economy has given rise to mental health disorders nationwide, resulting in a decline in physical health. Those suffering from mental illnesses are more likely to suffer from chronic physical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disorders, and more1. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) illustrated that 9 in 10 individuals perceive financial hardships as a major source of stress – notably greater than the perception during the pre-pandemic era2. Furthermore, it is common for stressed individuals to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking3 – increasing the risk of pulmonary diseases and cancers, providing the evident association between mental and physical health. This shows the undeniable impact of the pandemic on financial constraints across the world.
Pakistan’s overall disregard for mental health has recently been corroborated. The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the “Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020” to improve mental health globally. However, as per WHO’s “World Mental Health Report” analysis, most countries, including Pakistan, did not adhere to the plan, highlighting the lack of consideration towards mental health4. Moreover, Pakistan lacks sufficient resources to handle an endemic wave of mental disorders. Having one of the lowest psychiatrist-to-patient ratios worldwide – with only 500 psychiatrists serving a colossal population of 220 million. These statistics substantiate the urgency to emphasize the indispensability of psychiatry as a career opportunity5.
Local authorities must invest in effective relief programmes, especially for the impoverished disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. As a nation, it is paramount to possess readiness for intervention at times of psychological distress, and if left rampant, may enter a vicious cycle of deteriorating mental health, precipitating to deteriorating physical health, further crippling the economy.
Submission completion date: 19-09-2022
Acceptance date: 22-12-2022
Disclaimer: None to declare.
Conflict of Interest: None to declare.
Funding Sources: None to declare.
1. Stress in America. American Psychological Association. 2022.[Online] [Cited 2022 June 10]. Available from: URL: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2022/march-2022-survival-mode
2. Chronic Illnesses and Mental Health: Recognizing and Treating Depression. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Revised 2021. [Online] [Cited 2022 May 8]. Available from: URL: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health
3. Lawless MH, Harrison KA, Grandits GA, Eberly LE, Allen SS. Perceived stress and smoking-related behaviors and symptomatology in male and female smokers. Addict Behav. 2015; 51:80-3. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.07.011.
4. World mental health report: transforming mental health for all. [Online] [Cited 2022 August 14]. Available from: URL: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240049338
5. Nisar M, Mohammad RM, Fatima S, Shaikh PR, Rehman M. Perceptions pertaining to clinical depression in Karachi, Pakistan. Cureus. 2019; 11: e5094. doi: 10.7759/cureus.5094.