KARACHI: Experts at a psychiatric rehabilitation conference titled ‘Recovery — the bridge between illness and wellness’ on Sunday spoke over various psychiatric illnesses and informed the audience about new studies aiming at revolutionizing treatment methods.
The conference was organized by Caravan of Life USA, in collaboration with Caravan of Life Pakistan Trust, at a hotel. Organizers said more than 400 participants attended the conference, which included several reputable names as speakers in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation from the US.
Dr. Anthony Zipple discussed how the improvements in treatment of serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, had made it possible for such patients to have full lives, jobs and independence.
He emphasized the need to treat people with mental health problems with respect and compassion, and valuing the individuals’ own needs and dreams.
He said often such patients’ families were blamed for illness, but they were ignored during the treatment process.
Dr. Catherina Batscha and Dr. Saima Hirani highlighted the fact that people with severe and persistent mental illness had shortened lives because of undiagnosed and untreated medical illness.
According to Dr. Batscha, about 70 percent of seriously mentally ill individuals had co-morbid physical illnesses, which could shorten their lifespan by 25 years. These illnesses include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiac problems.
She said it was crucial to integrate medical care with psychiatric treatment.
Dr. Batscha and Dr. Zainab F Zadeh, in another session, stressed the importance of evidence-based practices like CBT, motivational interviewing, and peer-support in the recovery process.
Scott Graham said it was exciting for him to have the opportunity to come to Pakistan and share his knowledge.
Mr. Graham and Dr. Uzma Ambareen discussed the challenges faced in psychiatric rehabilitation, in the US and in Pakistan, including workforce development, affordability, and issues like stigma, which could adversely affect access to mental health care.
The plenary session summarized the core elements of psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery: community integration, integrating physical health care and mental health care, peer support and client choice and control.
The session ended with concluding remarks from the trustees, Khusro Elley and Shaheen Ahmed.
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