In Pakistan, treatment of impotence and erectile dysfunction gets advertised on street walls, but talking about mental health is considered taboo and irrelevant. You can either be normal or mad. There’s no in-between. Lack of awareness on mental health conditions and the stigma attached to them destroys uncountable lives. Depression is not a myth; psychosis is not witchcraft; schizophrenia is not possession by the devil; and suicidal ideation does not result from a lack of spirituality or faith in religion. Mental health conditions are real and deserve proper recognition and treatment. We need to stop shying away from seeking needed help. The problem starts with the word “mental,” which is often used synonymously with madness. “So-and-so is a mental case,” we say. They result from environmental or biological factors, just as other health conditions, contrary to the general perception that mental health conditions are caused by supernatural intervention or black magic But “mental” means relating to the mind or brain. Being a vital organ in our body, the brain, like other organs, undergoes structural and functional problems, leading to distressful symptoms. Human beings deal with difficult situations like bullying, abuse and financial worries that can lead to mental health conditions like psychotic episodes, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and posttraumatic stress. They result from environmental or biological factors, just as other health conditions, contrary to the general perception that mental health conditions are caused by supernatural intervention or black magic. We go to an endocrinologist for hormonal imbalances, a urologist for bladder dysfunction and a gynecologist for sexually transmitted diseases. We can visit a cosmetics surgeon for a face lift, but we’re reluctant to seek help from a psychiatrist for a chemical or neuronal imbalance in the brain. We’re afraid of being labeled “mental”. We don’t want to get stigmatised by a society that lacks awareness. But emotional pain’s worse than mild to moderate physical pain. It’s a traumatic experience for the person dealing with it. And taking care of mental health is essential for a healthy life. Published in Daily Times, September 28th 2018.