In the lead up to World Mental Health Day (10 October), world renowned Pakistani actor and British Asian Trust Ambassador, Mahira Khan, this week visited one of the British Asian Trust’s mental health projects in Karachi, Pakistan.
A strong advocate for the Trust’s mental health work in Pakistan, Mahira visited a centre in Karachi run by British Asian Trust partner AAS Trust, to meet children being provided with 24/7 accommodation and support to battle substance abuse and trauma. Twenty children are currently provided with support through counselling, therapy, education and recreational activities.
During her visit, Mahira Khan spoke with staff at the centre and the children, where she learnt about the work, and the experiences of children.
She said: “One in four people experience mental health issues but we rarely talk about it, let alone the fact that very young children also need support.
“These children have experienced unimaginable trauma in their life which has impacted on their mental health – no child should have to deal with that on their own. Thankfully, with support from the British Asian Trust and AAS Trust, counselling and therapy is helping these children develop positive mental health and break their addictions.
“World Mental Health Day is a powerful reminder that in Pakistan and across the world, we need to continue to talk about mental health, remove the stigma and extend support to everyone.”
90% of people in need of treatment in Pakistan lack access to any support. There are fewer than 500 psychologists and 400 psychiatrists for the population of 216 million people. Alcohol and drug dependency, sexual assault, trauma, neglect and poverty, can worsen mental health problems. COVID-19 and recent floods has exacerbated the mental health and wellbeing of people even more.
The British Asian Trust has worked together with Pakistan based organisations for more than eight years, transforming the mental health landscape in Pakistan by changing attitudes and increasing access to quality community based mental health services. The Trust has so far reached over 1.6 million people with basic information and increased access to services.