[Reader-list] Is there a remedy to unending stress in Kashmir?

arshad hamid peerzadaarshad at gmail.com
Sat Aug 12 22:25:42 IST 2006

Is there a remedy to unending stress in Kashmir?

Peerzada Arshad Hamid


Seventeen years of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has had a direct bearing on
Society in the form of increasing number of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders
in state. Frequent violence in the shape of grenade explosions, improvised
explosive device (IED) blasts, killings, encounters culminating in damage of
residential structures and brutal killings are worsening the situation. In
such an aura mental disorder in shape of stress and panic is a natural

On the prevailing stressful conditions in Kashmiri society, veteran
sociologist Dr. Abdul Gani Madhosh says, "The overall situation in
Kashmiris not all that pleasant so stress and depression can't be
taken out

As a way out, Madhosh suggests, "Counselling of bruised souls is a first
step and rest things have to follow. You have to create an atmosphere where
people no longer feel scared."

Dr. S Khurshid-ul-Islam is Assistant Professor in the Department of
Communication and Behaviour Sciences at Jammu and Kashmir Institute of
Management, Public Administration and Rural Development. He says that
situation prevailing in the state has snatched leisure from the people and
their minds always remain preoccupied with fear.

"We are humans and there are varied things that one has to think of in order
to run family affairs and routine business. In doing so a sort of stress
always remains on us though unintentionally. Now add to it the unusual fear
and insecurity that anything unusual can happen the next moment. So where
from can you bring the desired change," he says.

Khurshid believes that fear and insecurity are the basic reasons for
increasing psychiatric disorders. "Unless and until sense of insecurity is
not taken out from the minds of people, you won't be able to put a check on
increasing number of such patients instead the numbers will escalate as they
have since 1989," he suggests.

Laying emphasis on more and more social interactions rather than focus on
individualism, Khurshid foresees way out within society and holds the view
that as a society, Kashmiris can definitely contribute towards lowering the
number of psychiatric diseases.

"What people need to do is, they have to increase their social interactions
within their families and neighbourhood. By this people will manage to share
their grief and possibility of stress on a particular person gets minimal to
a large extent. Then religion too has a role, it helps the people to cope up
and endure the worst kind of happenings in one's life," Says Khurshid.

Shazia Manzoor is a lecturer in the Department of Master in Social Work at
the University of Kashmir. She teaches students the art of social work and
techniques of counselling and rehabilitation of the patients, whom she
describes victims.

"My focus is to teach students the methods by way of which they can tackle
the patients and them effective counselling. So far as I have been able to
get the feel of patients visiting the Psychiatric hospital, underlying
reason for majority of the cases is conflict going on in Jammu and Kashmir.
There are cases of Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Drug addiction,
Anxiety, Neurosis, etc.," says Shazia.

Shazia feels that awareness regarding psychiatric diseases in Kashmir is not
done effectively. She argues that people in Kashmir are still having
inhibitions in visiting psychiatric hospital or psychiatrist.

"Your figure about visits of people at psychiatric hospital will say
patients are coming and number is increasing but my experience says people
come to psychiatric hospital, when it becomes unavoidable for them to seek
help of psychiatrists. Prior to that they try their best to seek refuge in
the prescriptions of doctors other than psychiatrists," says she.

Regarding awareness among the people, Shazia says help from opinion leaders
and religious heads at grass root level can make difference and bring
desirable change.

A private international Medical and Humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans
Frontiers (MSF) or Doctors without Borders has set up its office in
Srinagarwith the aim to bring down the levels of stress related
problems of people here. In Kashmir, MSF started its functioning in 2001 by
assisting in the rehabilitation of Government hospital for psychiatric

The brochure of MSF in Kashmir mentions that apart from serving victims of
natural and man made disasters, MSF provides medical assistance to victims
of armed conflict. The valley of Kashmir has been engulfed by instability
since 1989. The armed conflict going on here gave rise to stressful
situations. Violence has touched each family living in Kashmir one way or
other. People here are in need of help.

With the agenda to serve affected people of Kashmir, MSF reconstructed wards
of psychiatric hospital and in the year 2003 started counselling services in
the hospital for psychiatric patients.

Farhat Mantoo is a team leader with MSF in Srinagar. "In counselling our aim
remains to infuse fresh hope in the psychiatric patients. This is achieved
by reinforcing the positives (healthy things) in patients and eliminating
the negatives by providing alternatives," explains Farhat.

Terming patients as clients, Farhat says counselling is a brief therapy
where clients (individually or in groups) talk to a counsellor who in turn
provides help to client by offering emotional support, psycho education ,
and sometimes practical advice. Furthermore the client learns to strengthen
his/her ways of coping with problems.

"In counselling the foremost thing is acknowledgement. You as a counsellor
have to acknowledge that the client has a problem and show concern about
it," she says.

Haroon Mirani is Research Head at Kashmir Newz , Srinagar. Mirani says that
situation in Kashmir  has not changed as portrayed by certain sections of
media. "Violence is still going on but we can say the society has adapted to
the deteriorating situation to some extent. That is why we don't see entire
town tense after a grenade blast or cross firing between militants and
troops in the Srinagar or any other place. Contrary to the initial phase the
impact is felt within a limited area for a short span of time," Mirani

Deliberating on the human relations, he says at times they surpass the
limits of adaptability and one fails to control him or herself.

"You can't stop yourselves when someone close to you falls prey to bullets
or gets killed accidentally in violence. You experience the flow of psyche
and fail to cope up, you develop stress and if it prolongs, you become a
patient," Mirani says.

Dr. Arshad Hussain is a practising psychiatrist at the lone psychiatric
hospital in Srinagar. He advocates the amalgamation of mental health in
general health.

"Kashmir is closed society. People still have inhibitions in visiting this
hospital. The fault does not lie with them. Actually the word went across
that anyone visiting the hospital of psychiatric diseases for treatment has
mental problems, which actually is not true.

So in order to relieve them of this burden the government should keep
services of psychiatrists available at premier health institutes of state
like SKIMS and SMHS in Srinagar and other allied hospitals. Then people
won't feel inhibitions," opines Arshad.

Cautioning about the fallout of stress on people, Dr Arshad points out that
if suffering of stress and trauma among people (mostly of younger
generation) goes unattended, it results in genetic disorder.

"It can become a genetic disorder and there is possibility that it can
transmit from one generation to another," says he.

Ends- - -

Peerzada Arshad Hamid

Baba mohalla Bijbehara
c/o Tak Trading Company Bijbehara
Jammu & Kashmir

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/attachments/20060812/9b848695/attachment.html 

More information about the reader-list mailing list