In a recent interview on PTV Home, veteran actor Resham claimed that depression “does not exist”, which is an incredibly insensitive and illogical statement for a person in her position to say. Depression is not trivial; it is a genuine health condition. And it very much exists in Pakistan — more than most countries in the world.

In 2022, public health experts and intellectuals pointed out that around 75 per cent of the population, especially youngsters, are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression in Pakistan. We have one of the highest rates of mental ill-health in the world; according to one estimate, around 50 million people in Pakistan suffer from debilitating issues such as depression, abuse, alcoholism, post-traumatic disorder, eating disorders, manic depressive psychosis, and schizophrenia. What is even more alarming is that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are only 0.19 psychiatrists in Pakistan per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the lowest numbers in the world. The absence of trained mental health professionals in the country has created a major treatment gap, leaving more than 90 per cent with mental health issues untreated. More than 20 million Pakistanis (10 per cent of the country’s population) suffer from some form of mental health condition.

With a deteriorating economy, unemployment, an all time high inflation, and low salaries, survival seems nearly impossible in Pakistan right now. People are getting killed in stampedes just to get free ration for themselves.


Last year, WHO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) called for concrete actions to address mental health concerns in the working population, saying that an estimated 12 billion workdays are lost annually due to depression and anxiety, costing the global economy nearly $1 trillion.

The struggles and torment some people are facing in Pakistan are truly heart-wrenching, the reasons why the country is wrapped in depression. Conditions are so palpable and scary that last month we witnessed a Grade 17 officer of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) in Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) who allegedly wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif requesting permission to start engaging in corrupt activities from April 1. The officer claimed that he faced difficulties in meeting his expenses due to his low salary and the current high inflation in the country. In the letter, the officer said that he had been working with the FBR for the last four years and has never committed a single rupee of corruption, despite offers to earn below-the-table money on several occasions. However, now he was not left with any option but to look for illicit means to make ends meet, and seeks permission from the prime minister to engage in corruption. The officer also shared his salary, which is Rs122,922, and his general expenses, which amount to Rs110,500, not including petty expenses as a husband and father.

In these desperate times how would one not be scared, anxious, worried and in depression? We can only hope that people take mental health seriously. Times are tough and only the right help and guidance will help us get through. And we hope that people acknowledge and understand the reality of these conditions and not disregard that we are very much, in fact, a depressed nation.