‘Suno!’ the Unheard Plight of Mental Illness

Karachi: The Dawood Foundation in collaboration with Taskeen [an initiative of the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH), Humanity Initiative and CareforHealth] has launched a year-long extensive campaign to educate people and create awareness regarding mental illness in our society. The campaign advocates that mental illness is not a taboo and can be treated like any other disease/disorder.

The first initiative under this campaign is a theatre play called ‘Suno!’, directed by the talented filmmaker Hamza Bangash. The play is set to bring the stage alive in Karachi from April 27th-30th, 2016 at The Arts Council. Inspired by the real-life events of a volunteer of Taskeen – a person suffering from bipolar disorder, the theatrical drama ‘Suno!’ highlights a middle class family’s struggle to come to terms with their son’s mental health problems. A heartwarming coming-of-age story, Suno! will take its viewer through a whole gamut of emotions.

Speaking about the initiative, Sabrina Dawood, CEO, The Dawood Foundation said: “Mental illness requires compassion, empathy and understanding. It is a human condition and requires us to be humane. It is not a condition from which only a few suffer. The trauma and violence that we as a society are enduring due to terrorism and natural disasters, are taking their toll.

While the scars of the body are visible and heal; those in the mind remain unresolved and fester. It is for this reason that The Dawood Foundation believes it is crucial to support initiatives such as this, which reduce the amount of suffering caused by lack of knowledge.”

TDF is committed to supporting educational awareness causes for the betterment of society. The prevalence of mental illnesses is increasing and its impact on the population needs to be emphasized. The Foundation hopes that projects such as this will promote much needed social change and create a space for people to reach for help. Studies show that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health problem in Pakistan whereas an estimated 30% of the people living in Karachi face anxiety and depressive disorders.*

These statistics demonstrate the magnitude of psychological disorders in Pakistan. With the growing size of this problem, the human toll of neglecting mental health can no longer be ignored. It is, therefore, imperative to create a general comprehension of what mental health problems are and an acceptance for those people who are suffering from mental illnesses.

Unfortunately the scenarios for these patients are bleak, as many sufferers never seek treatment and may suffer from a range of societal reactions; from just being misunderstood to being ridiculed or at its worse; completely shunned by society.

Commenting on the importance of this campaign, Beenish Nafees, a psychologist and co-founder of Taskeen said: “PAMH, through Taskeen, has been working for many years to create awareness and alleviate the stigma which is associated with mental health that is a result of chemical imbalance. Today, patients can be treated with psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and other therapies and we must support people to seek the right treatment. Our collaboration with The Dawood Foundation will further strengthen our awareness campaign on mental illness.”

Apart from the play, other activities are planned to be conducted over the year across Pakistan to meet the target of campaign. These activities include: community-based awareness workshops, radio programs, public service messages on television/radio channels, social media campaign and SMS service.

These efforts attempt to spread awareness about the importance of practicing emotional hygiene and how to identify and deal with mental health problems.


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