Our Youth, Social Malaise and Mental Illness (Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque)

Mental illnesses are the most misunderstood in our society. Usually, these uncased diseases are taken very lightly. And when these become serious, the society harshly outcasts their victims as ‘crazy’ and ‘maniac’.

Depression is perhaps the highest reported problem in modern, mechanical world. Especially women are the most exposed to it. And are at the greatest risk. More than half of our women folk suffers intense sadness, pessimism, worthlessness and sense of guilt, which affect their physical and mental health. They lose or gain excessive weight, face problems in sleep, mourn endlessly, withdraw socially, are unable to perform their role efficiently and in extreme cases commit suicide.

Youth is another major sufferer of depression and anxiety in the modern world. Poor parent-child relationships, undue high expectations, failure in life are the main reasons behind it. This Youth that, rather than expressing its anger towards others, it becomes angry about itself and develops negative self-image that results in chronic depression.

Now added to it is the amazing phenomenon: every one of us claims to be sensitive, complains about being alone and misunderstood but fails to solve this self-created alienation by sharing our feelings and pains with others.

The major reasons are that we are losing that closely-knit family and friends’ structure that used to function as a support group in such situations. We are also lacking the strength based on values that provides a shelter against all miseries and evils. These problems are the result of emotional instability.

Declining social environment is another major determinant of increasing mental health problems in recent years. Poverty, over-crowded living conditions, unemployment, job insecurity and inequity, a growing number of broken relations and marriages, man-made natural disasters, wars, ethnic violence as well as violence against women (in the east especially), children and aged are some of the major factors which aggravate the situation.

The other factor making the situation worse all the more is the increasing accent on material gains. This has become a worldwide phenomenon and has resulted in drastic remolding of people’s perceptions about values and the gradual extinction of the young man with ideals. It is more so for the rising middle class whose scions are money wise more ambitious.

The depressed people pass on through an extremely painful phase and need full emotional and professional support to get back their faith in life and in themselves.

Nation nourishes in the lap of trained, literate, and loving mother as woman reared up under the canopy of the values enshrined in the Quran. There is now a broad consensus among development specialists that it is vital to educate women. Illiteracy among women promotes backwardness; it sets up a vicious cycle from which it is economically and culturally difficult to escape. Poorly educated women tend to have large families that normally don’t enjoy good health. Health standards achieved by poor and large families are considerably lower than those of small and rich households are. Poor health means poor quality of human capital, which, in turn, means low incomes. On and on goes the vicious circle. The only way of cutting into it is to educate women.

But our trouble is that:
We don’t learn from history, we don’t learn from experience, we don’t learn from our elders, we don’t learn from what we were taught at school, college or university. And to boot, we are led by the corrupt and the ignorant. This generation may well say they have no elders to teach them to differentiate wrong from right in the light of the Quran.

Who is responsible for this gross negligence? What is to be done? Are we conscious of this situation? When to start nullifying the effects?

Even then I pray: “May you make everything blossom that the Quran sows in the deepest recesses of heart and those committed to the Quran are trying to inculcate.   May you develop further all the elements of prosperity which lie hidden, unseen, unknown at par with what the Quran demands.”

But: “Are we, with all my pray, prepared to come out of this trap?”

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