ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Institute of Psychology (NIP) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted an International Conference on “Mental Health of Afghan Refugees: Issues, Challenges, and Solutions for All Stakeholders” at Serena Hotel in Islamabad on March 15, 2023.
The event brought together stakeholders, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from across the globe to discuss issues, challenges, and solutions related to the mental health of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
The Chief Organizer of the Conference and Director of the NIP Professor Dr. Rubina Hanif along with the Organizer Dr. Humaira Jami and Collaborators Dr. Marsela Nyawara and Dr. Shahid Irfan (IOM) welcomed the guests and speakers.
The Conference featured three keynote speakers including Mr. Sher Jan Ahmadzai (USA), Professor Dr. Jahanzeb Khan (VC, FATA), and Ms. Tammi Sharpe (UNHCR).
Mr. Ahmadzai is a leading mental health advocate and consultant on refugee mental health.
Two-panel discussions were also held on Conference Day.
Renowned academicians, researchers, and professionals from the Defense and Strategic Studies Department Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad, the Ministry of Human rights as well as the Ministry of planning, development, and reforms, Islamabad took part in these panel discussions.
During the conference, participants also engaged in interactive pre-conference workshops (March 13-14, 2023), and poster presentations. Topics such as, Mental health issues and challenges, Stigma, discrimination, and marginalization, Protection risks and a mental health Building sustainable community, Gender disparity in mental health, Children and adolescents, Institutional and structural challenges and issues Resilience and coping, were the main highlights of the conference.
Professor Dr. Rubina Hanif stated, “The Conference provided a much-needed platform to discuss the mental health challenges faced by Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. We hope that the insights and recommendations shared during the conference will help to improve the mental health and well-being of Afghan refugees in our country and beyond. She invited all the stakeholders to join hands with NIP for establishing National Centre of Mental Health for Migrants within NIP premises. The main objectives for this Centre with particular focus on migrants can be: Conducting awareness programs to change the mind set and attitudes of people, providing psychological services, conducting evidence-based research on pertinent issues, developing psychosocial intervention and prevention programs, capacity building of mental health professionals through training workshops.”
The Conference was concluded on positive note from Professor Dr. Muhammad Idrees, Dean Faculty of social sciences that Quaid-i-Azam University will always support NIP for these community outreach services. He appreciated this joint venture by NIP and IOM and praised the diligence and perseverance of the organizing team.
The Conference was a success, with participants leaving with new insights, practical tools, and valuable connections. The National Institute of Psychology is committed to continuing its efforts to advance the field of mental health and promote the well-being of all individuals in Pakistan and beyond.