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More People Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness in Strife-torn Kashmir

itancy that broke out in the Himalayan state in 1989 has claimed over 45,000 lives so far. The violence shows no signs of ending. Heavily armed security forces are a common sight on the streets of the Kashmir Valley, and arrests and bomb explosions are routine.

All this has created a climate of fear and anxiety. If a family member does not return home on time, people often fear the worst and begin making frantic inquiries. Women are also in the forefront of a campaign to know the fate of the thousands listed in the state as "disappeared".

Said Hameeda Nayeem, who teaches English in Kashmir University and a founder member of the Women Waging Peace, an initiative of Harvard University's Kennedy School: "Eighty percent of those who seek help from mental health professionals are women.

"In Srinagar there is only one psychiatrist one can go to, Mushtaq Marghoob. And I usually see a long queue outside his clinic," Nayeem said.

Asked if women from all strata of society are seeking help, she said: "A few of my colleagues in the university have sought help. I don't think there is any stigma attached to being seen with mental health professionals any more."

(Source: IANS)
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