Alarmed by the lack of mental health services inPakistan, The British Asian Trust has launched a new initiative introducing community-based care to enable mentally ill people to live and work successfully in their own towns and villages.
In partnership with UK-based charity BasicNeeds andPakistan’s Aman Foundation, the Trust has entered the mental health arena in the country following months of planning and research.
“Emotional and mental wellbeing is fundamental to the development of a responsible and dynamic society. We neglect it at our peril,” said Arif Naqvi, founder ofPakistan’s Aman Foundation. “Mental health is a major health problem that is on the rise globally. InPakistan, like in many less developed countries, there is a huge stigma attached to mental health and the resultant denial of it perpetuates its neglect,” Arif Naqvi said.
In searching for charity partners, the Trust identified BasicNeeds whose pioneering, low-cost, community-based model is already making great strides in 10 countries.
ChrisUnderhill, founder of BasicNeeds, believes his organisation can make ‘an enormous difference to the lives of mentally ill people inPakistan’. “There is a real chance to do something in this sector over the next five years and beyond,” he said. “We are aiming to work with Pakistani colleagues and partners at every level to make a major difference. We will be weaving a tapestry that allows a community-based mental health system to be created,” he said.
Concerns about mental health and the scarcity of effective services are mounting among professionals inPakistanwhere one in five families struggle with a mental health problem, says Trust Programme Manager Rabia Nusrat.
“The stigma associated with mental health can lead to mentally ill people being abandoned or hidden away with no hope for a future. We are keen to engage local partners and benefit from their expertise and scholarship to address these crucial issues,” she said.
Hitan Mehta, Executive Director of The British Asian Trust, welcomed the new initiative. “We aim to make a major impact on mental health inPakistanin partnership with BasicNeeds and the Aman Foundation.”
Picture: Steve Fisher.