At 18, Rabia’s life looked joyful. She had recently got married, enjoyed spending time with her sister-in-law Fatima, and had just found out that both of them were pregnant.
Fatima gave birth to a son and Rabia a daughter, after a caesarean section. Caring for the baby was hard, but Rabia was coping until she became pregnant again, just three months later.
At this point Rabia’s in-laws became annoyed with her. They were cross that she was pregnant again and told her she’d be letting her husband down if she had another daughter. Rabia was unhappy and became depressed. Her in-laws were unsympathetic, unwilling to help and rejecting the idea of mental health problems.
Sadly, the pregnancy did not last. Rabia suffered a ruptured uterus and lost her baby. The doctor instructed that she should not think of having another baby for at least six years.
When she returned to the house, Rabia’s depression worsened. She stopped looking after herself, and people kept away from her, thinking her rude. Other women avoided her, believing they too might miscarry.
Rabia came to British Asian Trust partner Sehat Kahani’s clinic in October 2018, encouraged to attend by a community health worker. Her in-laws were not supportive, suggesting that the clinic was only for ‘crazy people’, and so at first she was reluctant to take part. However, after a few meetings she opened up about her situation.
Initially she blamed her husband and his family for abandoning her, then her mother for not foreseeing the miscarriage, and then herself. But slowly things have changed. Despite criticism from Rabia’s in-laws, Rabia is now receiving counselling. She has come to recognise that she has depression and she is taking part in sessions to learn how to cope.
Rabia has begun to recover. Through the support of the weekly groups and online counselling with a psychologist, she is now rebuilding her relationships, including that with her husband.
With the support of our donors and the work of local partner organisations in Pakistan, The British Asian Trust is determined to end stigma and provide vital community mental health services to help more people like Rabia.
"Ignorance about mental health is a major health crisis in a country like Pakistan. Women and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected. Talking about mental issues is such a taboo that often patients feel it’s better to stay quiet than to be singled out. We promote awareness and safe spaces for women to talk about their mental health issues through group discussion and through referrals to psychologists and psychiatrists. We work in low-income communities where women’s health issues (let alone mental health issues) are typically ignored. Our mission is to create an integrated mental health solution ensuring wellbeing for all and not just the rich or the powerful," commented Dr. Sara Saeed, CEO and Co-Founder, Sehat Kahani.
All donations or Zakat given towards our mental health projects in Pakistan during our 2019 Ramadan appeal are being match funded by CareTech Foundation and COSARAF Charitable Foundations; doubling the impact of the money given.
*Due to sensitivities surrounding the stigma attached to mental health issues in the country, this person has requested their name be changed and identity not be revealed.