I met Sami Mughal a few months back on Twitter. He mentioned his project PakTherapy and I was keen to find out more.
Sami, could you tell us a little of your early life.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan – with a reasonably boring family and home life. Overly protective parents who are rather religious but generally mean no harm. Get caught up in societies pressures like most people from that culture do. As far as languages go, I have grown up speaking Urdu with my folks, Punjabi in the area and English at school.
My dad was a British national, and while he moved back to Pakistan for a period of time, my immigration to the UK was relatively straight forward. He moved back here after he retired in Pakistan and I finished my degree in Engineering before moving here to find a job and all that. Currently I am working as an Electronics Engineer for a medical science company.
So basically, I grew up in Pakistan to a relatively poor but well educated family. Financial troubles were the main source of anxiety in the earlier years, mixed with the general societal pressures that come with growing up in a conservative society.
As I grew up, things got ugly between me and my family over various issues. The end result was me going through therapy to deal with it. As I went through it, I realised how vital it could be for everyone who shares my back ground.
You mentioned you have some mental health issues yourself, would you like to tell us more about that?
Technically I had no mental health issues, but I did go through what my therapist described as ‘bad circumstances’. Thankfully, through his help and some of the changes that happened around me, I was able to overcome them. I still feel edgy at times, but I was not diagnosed with something.
Could you tell us a little bit about Pak Therapy?
The issues I faced and the ones that bothered me were not unlike things faced by many Pakistanis today. As such, I realised how much therapy had helped me, and felt like it would be a great way to bring some clarity and help to the people of Pakistan. Out of this inspiration, PakTherapy was born.
The idea is to provide people of Pakistan, and rest of the world, with some articles, some links to various people who can help them, and eventually provide a channel for people to be able to get online therapy through the website.
In order to help people tackle with this, specially those who are living in Pakistan, I wanted to provide a channel /forum so people have somewhere to turn to. Eventually I want @PakTherapy to provide people with direct therapy too. To do so I need to get some qualified therapists on board.
What motivated you to launch this?
Everyone I grew up with has experienced stress related to the uncertainty you get within a 3rd world country. Poverty, extremism from society and religious groups as well as the fear of terrorism.
I am really aware that there is a distinct lack of mental health awareness in Pakistan and wish to help this.
What do you hope to achieve through it
To normalise mental health issues, and letting people know and encourage them to seek cures.
What can we do to help and support the cause?
We can spread the word, help us link up with therapists who are willing to help people from third world countries, and provide us with help in terms of articles. While we haven’t had any donations yet, some of it could help us get the PakTherapy Website off the ground, so would be welcome too.