In a country where governmental respect and concern are only given to the “upper class” in society, and where laws and beliefs are still established on a sexist basis, it’s hard to find happiness and mental relief. Living in a community where dreaming big falls under the wrong mindset, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay away from mental illness.
Social phobia, depression, and autism are very common in the Middle East. In fact, the real problem is not about the illnesses themselves; it’s actually about the negativity that’s being shown by the community towards the people with the illnesses. In Lebanon, such illnesses are stigmatized to the point that people suffering from them shy away from admitting that they even have an illness, and so do their families.
Indeed taboos associated with mental issues are pushing patients to hide and not to consult any specialists. Unfortunately, these issues are extending to affect their physical health as most physical ailments are acquired as a result of mental state.
As for those who decide to seek treatment regardless of the community, they are facing much bigger problems. Corruption and lack of censorship in the mental health sector are exposing patients to financial and physical dangers. Unqualified private practitioners are fabricating an exploitation system by trying to turn patients into a “sustainable money source”. Furthermore, patients are subject to drug abuse because of undue or high doses of medication they are being prescribed.
During the last few years, pressure and inadequate life conditions have remarkably increased the percentage of people who have mental illnesses or impaired wellbeing. As revealed by the World Health Organization, one in four Lebanese has experienced a mental health challenge, while less than half of these patients have ever received professional help.
In particular, this disaster is striking certain groups including prisoners and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. No psychiatric programs are used to deal with the increasing prison population, while oppression, negligence, and violence are reigning there.
In the same way, violence is the one and maybe only concept that Syrians are experiencing. Fear of Syrian refugees, and disrespect that’s being shown toward them are destroying their mental and physical state. Currently, more than half of Syrians refugees in Lebanon are dealing with mental issues, because of the predominant consideration of their presence as a crisis. In fact, Syrian refugees are not the real crisis, what’s happening in their country is.
To sum up, mental health is unquestionably a case that must be known, discussed, and addressed by all categories: the social, civil, and political ones.
And the question remains, what if we fall under the spell of mental illness or impaired wellbeing? Will there be anyone for us?
Maybe we should keep in mind that “WE RISE BY LIFTING OTHERS” ~R. Ingersoll.
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