Enthusiastic about public awareness regarding mental health issues. Let’s imagine silently observing a group of friends having coffee or maybe a bunch of students carelessly walking through the hallway, colleagues having lunch breaks, or ladies enjoying a kitty party. What is the most anticipated topic of discussion amongst them? There is something that is replacing the general talks of cricket matches, cribbing, political anticipations, and curses for the rise of fuel prices. It is the discussions about the immediate need for moving abroad. It revolves around the prerequisites for immigration, exams to clear before applying for a visa, and success stories of random people who moved out recently. In short, ’emigration’ has become the talk of the town. Moving out for studies, jobs, career development and better income is nothing new for our society. It has been a norm for us. The idea has always been cherished and encouraged. However, this time there is something new. There is a state of heightened anxiety. Our people seem eager to leave, by hook or crook. When asked, Youth claims ‘there is no future in this country’. Elders and intellectuals are predicting a downfall and destruction. People primarily seem scared of the predicted ‘damage’. Moving out seems the ultimate solution for survival. The aim to achieve benefits of the outer world has become secondary. This means that now the internal push factor is stronger as compared to the external pull factor. It seems like we want to ‘run away’. We need to hold our ground firmly and be flexible enough to adopt new normals in changing scenarios. This situation can be debated from a variety of perspectives. Here, we intend to analyze it through the lens of psychology. We are well familiar with the fact that our brain is the primary control centre for every voluntary and involuntary function of the body. Scientific research says that human behaviour is primarily controlled by the underlying thoughts and emotions. Whenever there is a prediction of danger our brain prepares the body automatically to ‘run away’. This behaviour of running away is called ‘escape- behaviour’. It serves as a tool for survival in times of danger. However, this behaviour can become pathological and disabling if triggered unnecessarily. Thoughts of ‘presumed’ danger and the associated fear can precipitate this disabling situation. The distressing circumstances of political instability and inflation alone cannot justify the current spiking pattern of this escape behaviour. There is something more that is making matters seem worse than reality. As we have discussed our thoughts control our behaviour, so it predicts that we are suffering from an underlying ‘faulty thinking pattern’. ‘Catastrophization’ is a key thinking error. This thinking pattern predicts death and destruction as the only possible outcome of every situation. Thus we see the heightened feelings of threat and fear. Hence we conclude that the current hyped wish for moving abroad mirrors the escape behavior secondary to the feelings of threat and fear. The biggest setback of this vicious cycle of fear and escape is that it shuts down the process of rational thinking. Moreover, it prevents the development of coping skills and resilience. When we are not well prepared to deal with the current stressors we develop a dislike and disgust for our circumstances. We suffer from a sense of unfulfillment resulting in a blaming attitude and self-pity. To make matters worse difficulties in the immigration process create frustration and anger. All of these conditions are indicators of disturbed mental health. No wonder it can lead to a rise in mental disorders. The most dreaded outcome is a rise in cases of suicide and homicide. The above-mentioned details are enough to label this “escape behaviour” as a pathological phenomenon. Not to forget, it is contagious too. Every affected individual becomes a potential vector to spread the pathology. It spreads through communication. The media is already making matters worse by spreading fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Considering the pathology and contagiousness of this problem, I, as a mental health professional feel no hesitation in calling it a national epidemic. An epidemic of its kind! Just like any other public health issue it also demands special attention. Immediate action is needed at the national level. The strategies must primarily focus on instilling hope and teaching the coping skills to deal with stressful situations. It can be done through seminars, lectures and written material. The media needs to realize its responsibility and power. It can play a wonderful role in achieving the target. At a personal level, disengaging from the anxiety-provoking material and peer discussions is the need of the hour. A little more realistic reappraisal of the situation, somewhat less expenditure, a little more hard work, a slight tilt towards a simpler lifestyle, and a stronger social and spiritual connection can greatly reduce our stress. We must remember that no hard time has stayed forever in history. Every tunnel has a light at the end. We just need to hold our ground firmly and be flexible enough to adopt new normals in changing scenarios. The writer is a consultant psychiatrist at Sindh Rangers Hospital.