Chief Executive of our partner, the CareTech Foundation, writes about working with the British Asian Trust to provide mental health support in Pakistan.
At the CareTech Foundation, we are committed to delivering meaningful impact and improving the lives of communities in need. We are hugely proud of our partnership with the British Asian Trust, which is doing vital work in Pakistan to tackle mental health issues. This is a problem that too often goes unheeded and overlooked, leaving millions to suffer in silence or not knowing where to turn for help.
An estimated 50 million people in Pakistan are struggling with mental health issues, but the country lacks the care and support services that are desperately needed. In partnership with our Foundation and our colleagues at the COSARAF Foundation, the British Asian Trust is investing in solutions that will improve both the clinical and non-clinical services available to people, as well as promoting greater understanding about the importance of mental health. Through this innovative programme, we are working to improve mental health and family wellbeing through transformative solutions that are collaborative, scalable, and sustainable - and which engage the private sector.
As part of the partnership between the Foundation and the British Asian Trust, CareTech plc staff are providing their expertise, skills and experience to inform the development of the programme and provide hands-on support in its implementation.
In Pakistan, there are just over 400 psychiatrists to serve a population of 200 million, but that’s not the only problem. Too often mental health issues are dismissed or misunderstood, and a significant part of our work is intended to raise awareness, reduce stigma and offer a route to recovery.
I know that the £1m partnership between the CareTech Foundation and the British Asian Trust is already having a meaningful impact for people in Pakistan. Last December and again this January, I visited Pakistan to see the programme in action and was inspired by what I saw. People with complex but treatable conditions are now being helped back onto their feet, when previously they would have had little to no support. There are some great organisations doing stunning work on which we can build to deliver the step change in provision required.
Living with mental health issues can be a huge strain on individuals, but it also has knock-on effects on their family, their friends and wider society. Tackling this widespread problem has the potential not just to improve individual lives, but also to help the economy and promote prosperity. Beyond the immediate aims of the programme, I really hope that those in authority across relevant sectors in Pakistan will recognise the importance of systemic change so as to put mental health services at least on a par with clinical health services.
It is fantastic that the CareTech Foundation has been able to play its part alongside the British Asian Trust in bringing about what I hope will be the beginning of a revolution in the way mental health is treated in Pakistan. This is not about quick fixes but I am confident that the programme will come to be seen as a significant catalyst for major long-term positive change in Pakistan – and beyond.
Jonathan Freeman, Chief Executive, CareTech Foundation.