SAT Feb 16: Healing Souls- A website on mental health education for the well-being of Pakistani young women (Munir Moosa)

16 February 2019

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Munir Moosa Sadruddin
30 December 2018


Mental health is significant to an individual's well-being. Young people with positive mental health contribute constructively in daily life and are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors (Knopf, Park and Mulye, 2008; Reynolds et al., 2013). 

During recent years, the prevalence of mental health issues has mounted among young Pakistani women (Yusufzai, 2018). In a survey carried out in 2017, 44% of the entire population reported a high frequency of depression of which 57.5% were women (Sarfraz, 2017).

Female higher education students, in particular, are affected by depression and its associated risk factors due to socio-economic and cultural barriers (Ahmed et al., 2016; Saleem, Mahmood and Naz, 2013). In a survey conducted in Karachi, Pakistan 38.07 % of males and 61.00 % of female students indicated severe depression (Ghayas et al., 2014).

According to Sohail, Syed, and Rahman, “In the Pakistani context, traditionally, the oppressive family/community environment is identified by Western-trained psychiatrists as an important cause of mental health problems in Muslim societies” (2017, p.32). Despite women’s participation in education and employment, their role in decision making and personal choices are sparse because of patriarchal culture (Gull Tarar and Pulla, 2014; Malik and Aamir, 2017).

There is a lack of awareness among female learners towards mental health due to the stigma associated with mental illness and unavailability of policy intervention (Damani, 2018; Kazmi, 2018; Waqas et al., 2014). To meet this need, “a culturally appropriate mental health awareness intervention” (Ali, et al., 2016, p.1) is believed to have a positive impact on their well-being.

My project takes an innovative approach to open learning. A multimedia object, i.e., a website is designed using a Google site. It intends to empower Pakistani female university students towards mental health without reliant on physical interaction due to widespread prejudice and gender stereotype. Culturally appropriate Open Educational Resources (OERs), Creative Commons licensed videos and podcasts, and other reliable contents are reviewed, filtered and compiled on ‘Depression’.

As a part of the ‘innovative theme’ of the H818 online conference, my presentation will highlight the project rationale and will demonstrate the key features of the website. I will first shed light on the reasons, why I feel this website is the appropriate platform for the target population, and why I consider it as innovative. Moving further, I will brief a website content such as awareness, empowerment, and speak out! Inspirational stories. It will be followed by a few examples of collaborative activities and chat rooms appended within a website. Finally, I will share a testimonial video as a motivational tool. The presentation will be followed by a five minutes question and answer session. 

A multimedia tour of the website is available at 

Keywords: Mental health, well-being, depression, open education, innovation, open educational resources, a multimedia object, female learners, Pakistan


Ahmed, B., Faaiz Enam, S., Iqbal, Z., Murtaza, G. and Bashir, S. (2016). Depression and anxiety: a snapshot of the situation in Pakistan. International Journal of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science, [online] 4(2). Available at: [Accessed 6 Jan. 2019].

Ali, N., McLachlan, N., Kanwar, S. and Randhawa, G. (2016). Pakistani young people’s views on barriers to accessing mental health services. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, [online] 10(1), pp.33-43. Available at:'s_views_on_barriers_to_accessing_mental_health_services/download [Accessed 31 Dec. 2018].

Damani, S. (2018). Mental Illness in Pakistan: A Subject of Stigma, Ridicule, and Cultural Insensitivity. [Blog] Journal of Pioneering Medical Sciences Blogs. Available at: [Accessed 30 Dec. 2018].

Ghayas, S., Shamim, S., Anjum, F. and Hussain, M. (2014). Prevalence and severity of depression among undergraduate students in Karachi, Pakistan: a cross sectional study. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, [online] 13(10), p.1733. Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2018].

Gull Tarar, M. and Pulla, V. (2014). Patriarchy, Gender Violence and Poverty amongst Pakistani Women: A Social Work Inquiry. International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice, [online] 2(2), pp.56-63. Available at: [Accessed 25 Dec. 2018].

Kazmi, S. (2018). The compromise on mental health. Daily Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Dec. 2018].

Knopf, D., Park, M. and Mulye, T. (2008). The Mental Health of Adolescents: A National Profile. [online] San Francisco: National Adolescent Health Information Center. Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2018].

Malik, A. and Aamir, M. (2017). Margalla Papers, [online] pp.61-72. Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2019].

Reynolds, E., Schreiber, W., Geisel, K., MacPherson, L., Ernst, M. and Lejuez, C. (2013). Influence of social stress on risk-taking behavior in adolescents. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, [online] 27(3), pp.272-277. Available at:

Saleem, S., Mahmood, Z. and Naz, M. (2013). Mental Health Problems in University Students: A Prevalence Study. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, [online] 7(2), pp.124-130. Available at: Journal Vol.7, No.2/3.Mental Health Problems in University.pdf [Accessed 29 Dec. 2018].

Sarfraz, H. (2017). Let’s talk about depression. The Express Tribune. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2018].

Sohail, S., Syed, A. and Rahman, A. (2017). Mental Health in Pakistan: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. In: H. Minas and M. Lewis, ed., Mental Health in Asia and the Pacific, International and Cultural Psychology. [online] Springer, pp.17-37. Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2018].

Waqas, A., Zubair, M., Ghulam, H., Wajih Ullah, M. and Zubair Tariq, M. (2014). Public stigma associated with mental illnesses in Pakistani university students: a cross sectional survey. PeerJ, [online] 2, p.e698. Available at: [Accessed 3 Jan. 2019].

Yusufzai, A. (2018). Concern over growing mental health problems among youth. Dawn. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Dec. 2018].

Abstract is also available at


Poster: Click and enter the presentation mode 

or download the pdf poster from here:






Extra content

Would you like to learn more about my website?

Watch this video teaser on Mental Health



Munir Moosa Sadruddin
09:00 on 10 January 2019 (Edited 07:15 on 16 January 2019)

Embedded Content

Abstract on SlideShare

Abstract on SlideShare

added by Munir Moosa Sadruddin

My Profile

My Profile

added by Munir Moosa Sadruddin

Accessiblle Alternate Poster on Slideshare

Accessiblle Alternate Poster on Slideshare

added by Munir Moosa Sadruddin


Annette Hendley
9:47pm 17 January 2019

Your abstract explains your objectives and reasoning very well. I understand that Western-trained psychologist can interpret the community as oppressive due to their specific training. Are there any theories from locally trained psychologists? It will be interesting to see if and how the views differ.

Munir Moosa Sadruddin
6:51pm 18 January 2019

Thank you so much Annette for throwing the interesting question.  I have read a lot of literature and theories from the western context. Unfortunately, you will not find any theories developed in the local context. But as an ethnography expert, I have observed the socio-cultural context in which Pakistani women are living, and how social and relational identities are dominating their personal identities.  I am not the proponent of the western theories as these have many underlying gaps. I had a conversation with two psychologists recently and they shared me that most of their patients are males and only a few females have visited them for mental health treatment but they kept their identities anonymously due to the fear of getting trolled by the society. They are treating patients medically, but I am not in favor of it unless necessary! I really feel that we need to empower women to explore their personal identities by delving down into it! It can give them an optimistic dimension to value their own viewpoints. Pakistani society has liberals and conservative mind-set people. When it comes to mental health, people prefer keeping quiet than sharing their issues with others. It is not about lack of trust but the way we are raised.  I myself was the victim of human rights abuses. My mother, despite of having a good education faced mental health issues for d,s issue better than a psychologist



Kelly Williams
3:54pm 21 January 2019

Hi Munir,

Very much looking to forward to hearing your talk on this complex issue.

I've been digging around and considering the theories of intersectionality a 'movement led by women of color (who) disputed the idea, common to earlier feminist movements, that women were a homogeneous category who shared the same life experiences.' Your project and comment above seems to exemlify this . It's an area I'm still thinking about and I'm sure it's a theory base you are familiar with but reading your abstract made it come to  mind. 

My other thought is have you had feedback from potential users of the site to give them voice within your project?

All the best with the presentation preparation!


Munir Moosa Sadruddin
7:12pm 21 January 2019

Hi Kelly

Thank you! Thank you for highlighting the area of intersectionality. 

My complete project from the beginning was based on the suggestions and feedback given by potential users. They were the one who participated in a poll and selected depression theme for the project. They also suggested sections and even few of them also demanded to add videos on laughing therapy etc. So amazing! I took them into the loop from the beginning!  Even replacing my idea of a discussion forum with chatroom was given by them only. 



patrick shearer
11:01pm 21 January 2019

Hi Munir, 

Enjoyed watching your topic and poster developing over the past few weeks. At work just now we are adapting to some pretty rapid change in relation go gender diversity. Debates and discussions are moving so quickly - especially relating the number and type of genders and associated labels. Gender pronouns have been part of the recent debate - using terms such as females, women and ladies have been providing some lively chat. Developing something specifically for women would not be frowned upon in my work but we would be asked to justify it. I think the testimonies are excellent and very powerful.

Sonia Pardos
11:22am 22 January 2019

Hello Munir, I think this is a very interesting topic and I am pleased to know that it is talked about more nowadays. I believe your project could help many young Pakistani women in the future. I always loved the idea of adding chat rooms to your website because in these type of circumstances is important for women to share their views and realise that they are not alone. Giving them a place where they can give support to each others and obtain information to help them overcome some barriers. I am not surprised that some of your participants suggested you adding videos of laughing therapies. Sense of humomour and laughing is a very healthy way of coping with stress and depression as it has been confirmed many times in the past. This could be a very successful project. Your project is clearly explained in your abstract and people knows what to expect from your presentation. All the best Munir!

Munir Moosa Sadruddin
8:24am 23 January 2019

Hello Patrick

Thnk you s much for the encouraging comments. It is good to learn about gender diversity at your workplace. Thank you for giving me a sense of gender pronouns in your context. In Pakistan, due to cultural constraints, people only talk about binary gender- male or female. With regard to gender pronouns, we mostly call girls to unmarried and women to married lady but I am not in favor of this socially constructed theory. There is a silent movement of women rights in Pakistan, but they do not want to come out of closet due to fear of socio-cultural consequences. I have shared the justification in abstract that we really need to work for them in Pakistan. 

My mother was the inspiration for me for this project (teaser for conference). I will share details during conference. Hope my project will be of help for them and for others as well

I look forward welcoming you to my presentation. 




Munir Moosa Sadruddin
8:27am 23 January 2019

Hello Sonia

Welcome! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Yes I am a strong supporter of women and children in Pakistan.  This project is one of the sustainable ideas for something bigger in the future after H818, hopefully. You are more than welcome to join me in this endevor. 

Looking forward to welcoming you to my presentation. 




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