Alarmed by the lack of mental health services in Pakistan, The British Asian Trust is launching 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 the Aman Foundation and UK-based charity BasicNeeds, the Trust is entering the mental health arena in Pakistan following months of research, said Programme Manager Rabia Nusrat. “We are excited about working with innovative organisations like the Aman Foundation and BasicNeeds,” she said. “We are grateful for the Aman Foundation’s support and guidance especially after seeing the organisation in action in Pakistan.
Arif Naqvi, founder of the Aman Foundation said:
“Mental health is a major health problem that is on the rise globally. In Pakistan, like in many less developed countries, there is a huge stigma attached to mental health and the resultant denial of it perpetuates its neglect.”
“We at the Aman Foundation see our partnership with The British Asian Trust as both strategic and long term. We are impressed with the BasicNeeds programme design and potentially see it as a fast, low-resource approach to a large and critical problem.”
In searching for charity partners, the Trust identified BasicNeeds whose pioneering, low-cost, community-based model is already making great strides in 10 countries.
Chris Underhill, founder of BasicNeeds, believes his organisation can make ‘an enormous difference to the lives of mentally ill people in Pakistan’.
“We want mentally ill people to be able to walk tall in the morning, go to work and resume their roles in their families,” he said. “There is a real chance to do something in this sector over the next five years and beyond,” Chris Underhill 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.”
Concerns about mental health and the scarcity of effective services are mounting among professionals in Pakistan, according to 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.
Aman Foundation founder Arif Naqvi emphasized that ‘emotional and mental wellbeing is fundamental to the development of a responsible and dynamic society.’ “We neglect it at our peril,” he said.