There is a severe lack of awareness behind the nature and consequences of mental health issues. In some cases, people lack the resources to access such information, and thus fall into stereotypical notions. We strive to curate educational content on different social media platforms to develop awareness about neurodiversity, get rid of misconceptions surrounding it, and open people up to newer ways of functioning. Additionally, we wish to partner with individuals and institutions whose focus is similar to ours - tackling the stigma behind neurodiverse conditions in Pakistan. Through talks and prospective workshops, we hope to create a conversation about these important topics and make them a part of our everyday lives.
As a consequence of the lack of attention and exposure to neurodiverse conditions in our society, there is a dire lack of research based on the population of Pakistan. This distorts our perception of these conditions, and consequently the therapy prescribed, because our knowledge is based on research that is conducted in western countries, which aren’t only more developed and educated, but their culture is significantly different than ours.
For this reason, we aim to conduct research based on the Pakistani population, not only to understand how these conditions present themselves in our country, but also how that presentation is different from other countries. This way, we hope to inform therapies being used by practitioners and doctors, in order to have a larger impact on the neurodivergent individual.
Our attention will befall on research that is not just survey-based, but experimental as well in order to understand different factors and establish causal relationships between them. Because of this, we would hope to collaborate with research centres that are both local and international that would aid us in this process and help bridge the gap in literature.
Awareness Campaigns in Schools
The stigma behind mental health issues experienced by adults has always been strong in Pakistan, but it is slowly becoming part of the conversation. However, adults are not the only ones who face mental health issues. Children do also. The same needs to be done for conditions experienced by children. This is even more important because therapy and interventions have better outcomes at a younger age.
We aim to carry out awareness campaigns in schools targeted towards teachers and parents so that they are able to identify signs and respond to them appropriately. Children spend countless hours with teachers, who are also role models for them. Therefore, it is essential to create awareness and train teachers and equip them with a diverse skill set so they are able support children better.
We will especially be focusing on underfunded schools to help alleviate lack of resources and ensure that all individuals are granted equal opportunity to succeed. We strongly believe that mental health awareness should be a necessity in every school’s teacher training program, something that we aim to work towards.
To fully integrate everyone into society, we are eager to work with hospitals to help rehabilitate neurodivergent children and adults by developing enjoyable skills such as painting, gardening, stitching, cooking etc. Moreover, we hope these interactions would allow us to learn how we can better support neurodivergent individuals and create environments that are suited to their needs. This would also allow us to find different ways of learning and communicating with the neurodivergent population, bridging the gaps and removing the misconceptions that exist in our society.
To achieve our goals, we are eager to partner with businesses to encourage them to hire neurodivergent individuals. Despite having the skills, neurodivergent individuals are denied opportunities in the workforce due to societal stigma and differences in communication within Pakistan. At RFN, we aim to combat this issue through implementing informed training programs for hiring managers, and also potential employees which would provide relevant resources to support equal opportunity for all and link neurodivergent students with work experiences, internships and work opportunities. To normalize an accessible working environment is a necessity for a harmonious society and would benefit existing employees and encourage an empathetic workforce.
Due to the burgeoning weight of social stigmas surrounding mental health conditions, one of our main aims is to be a provider of efficient and effective therapy treatments and interventions for those unable to afford or access it. By collaborating with institutes and hospitals, we hope to sponsor a certain amount of therapy sessions for children whose families cannot afford them.
We are currently working on a program to begin sponsoring the therapy of those who cannot afford it. We are in the process of forming partnerships with therapists to help us achieve this goal. As of right now, our focus is on helping provide children with neuro-developmental conditions access to suitable resources.