Views about women's mental health: Study in a squatter settlement of Karachi

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Objective: Mental health of women is globally receiving particular attention. This study assessed community's view on certain aspects of women's mental health prior to introducing an intervention. Setting: The study was conducted in an urban squatter settlement located in District West of Karachi in 1997 where the Aga Khan University has set up a Primary Health Care program in partnership with the communities. Methods: Using convenient sampling, door to door household survey was conducted by medical students. Results: Two hundred and eighty one residents were interviewed. Respondents were asked to list contributory factors which lead to mental distress in women. Two hundred and ten (75%) were able to list certain factors. The factors listed were; low family income (40%), dispute amongst spouses (30%), verbal abuse by in-laws (25%) and too many children (5%). When asked what women in the community did while they were mentally distressed 35% respondents reported that women talked to their husbands and 18% said counselling from a health provider was sought. Main channels of social support desired were; revenue generation (67%), membership of a women's group (11%) and training of local community women in counselling skills (10%). Conclusion: Signs of awareness about mental health issues are present even in marginalized communities of Pakistan. In order to improve the mental health of women interventions should primarily focus on raising family income.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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