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Event: Panel Discussion and Interactive Session on "Mental Health Is A Universal Human Right"


 October 11, 2023, In the alignment with the WHO's theme proposed this year for World Mental Health Day, i.e., "Mental Health Is A Universal Human Right”, a Panel Discussion and Interactive Session was organised by Training and Placement Office (general) in collaboration with Talent Magma

The event took place in the formal setting of the Conference Room at the Department of Mathematics, AMU, on October 11th, at 1:15 PM.

The panel experts featured in the field of mental health, with Dr. Faiza Abbasi, Director of the UGC Human Resource Development Centre at AMU, who served as the panel chair. Other panelists included Dr. Deoshree Akhouri, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at JNMC, AMU; Dr. Heena Parveen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, AMU; Mr. Saad Hameed, Training and Placement Officer at AMU; and Dr. Muzammil Mushtaq, Assistant TPO at AMU. Mr. Saad Hameed assumed the role of the Panel Moderator.

Many other guests marked the event with their grace such as the provost of the Prof. Subuhi Khan Begam Azizun Nisha Hall

The event officially commenced at 1:55 PM, preceded by the recitation of the Quran. Despite a forty-minute delay in the arrival of the expert panelists, the session began with the warm welcome address by Dr. Muzammil Mushtaq. Dr. Mushtaq introduced the panel members and then acknowledged Mr. Saad as the Moderator, who, in turn, shared his insightful perspective. Mr. Saad Hameed emphasized the issue of mental health among university students, highlighting its often-overlooked and taboo nature.

Mr. Saad invited Dr. Deoshree to share her insights, starting with the question, "What is mental health?" The audience actively participated in answering, initiating a discussion on various aspects of the stigma, taboo, and the significance of mental health.

One audience member emphasized that mental health encompasses not only mental disorders and illnesses but also the pursuit of mental well-being and drawing a comparison between seasonal depression and a common cold by Dr. Heena Parveen.

Dr. Heena Parveen expressed her concerns regarding the ongoing struggle to raise awareness about mental health, and how disheartening it is that we are still raising awareness in the twenty-first century where much much more pressing problems have come to surface in the field of psychology and psychiatry which was echoed and encouraged by other panelists.

Mr. Saad Hameed informed the audience about the counseling facilities available at AMU, including the OPD of Psychiatry, the Student Counseling Center, and his own Training and Placement Office. He also shared the OPD Schedule of Dr. Akhouri at JNMC, emphasizing the importance of seeking one-on-one assistance.

The panel discussion delved into various aspects, such as the significance of a positive personality and spirituality, and shared personal stories. Mr. Saad Hameed consistently stressed the need to make mental healthcare more accessible and raise awareness.

Dr. Faiza Abbasi shared her experience of coping with grief after losing her husband. She highlighted the importance of mental health support from books on spirituality, online therapy, and the inspiration to fulfill her roles as a mother and a member of society. The audience was deeply moved by her determination, and she encouraged them to explore the work of influential speakers like Jordan Peterson. It seemed as if Dr. Abbasi was either indifferent or uninformed of the controversies regarding Jordan B. Peterson and how his license is being revoked by the Canadian Association of Psychology.

Towards the end of the session, Mr. Saad Hameed conducted a profound exercise engaging the audience into self affirming some phrases of strength. Which was followed by the short Question and Answer session.

An audience member raised a crucial question, urging the consideration of human rights in the broader discussion of mental health disorders. He shared his negative experiences seeking help from the OPD and the Student Counseling Center, emphasizing the need for authorities to address these grievances. After a brief moment of silence, Mr. Saad addressed the question, acknowledging that mental health is a universal human right concerning both quality and accessibility. Dr. Faiza Abbasi encouraged students to voice their concerns to the relevant authorities by getting such grievances written to the proper authorities.

Mr. Saad and the questioner exchanged a brief moment of conversation regarding the question and addressing the problems, however, lack of time overtook and further, more general questions, were addressed next.

Mr. Saad Hameed, shared with AMU Journal reporter personally that this event will ‘not just be something that is done to be forgotten yesterday’ and it would pave the way on further improvement of ensuring such rights in AMU.

Towards the end, the guests and the panelists shared their positive remarks. It is worth noting that one of the guests, Prof. Subuhi Khan who happens to be a faculty at the Department of Mathematics and the Provost of the Begum Azeezun Nisa Hall shared that “These problems do not matter if they focus on different things.” To which, none of the panelists talked further.

The event concluded with a valedictory ceremony, the University Tarana, the national anthem, and the distribution of refreshments on 4:00 PM.

Reported and Written by Izhan Ahmad 

For AMU Journal.

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