Across Pakistan, there are a lack of mental health services and adequate safe spaces for communities to practice wellbeing. For many primary care clinics, even existing mental health counselling and screening has been a low priority – reflected in treatment taking place in small, unventilated and noisy rooms in hospitals and health centres.
This week, British Asian Trust mental health partner Interactive Research and Development (IRD) launched the Pursukoon Zindagi Wellness Centre at The Indus Hospital (Korangi campus) in Karachi. This is the first centre in an initiative focused on tackling the lack of adequate mental healthcare provision. The centre, a container facility, will provide a dedicated safe space to practise emotional and mental wellbeing, and means that patients will no longer have to enter the main hospital or wait in long queues.
The centre offers free services, such as individual mental health counselling and regular structured group sessions, which include patient/peer support groups. Promoting the importance of good mental health and educating people on the signs and symptoms of common mental disorders, the space will also enable communities to take part in wellbeing activities, such as mindfulness, yoga and art therapy, and aims to create broad awareness about the importance of wellbeing.
The Indus Hospital has been an integral partner for IRD and the Pursukoon Zindagi programme. When IRD assessed its current mental health programme, they found that people were engaging better with community awareness sessions, groups and counselling than when they were invited to attend appointments at a general clinic or hospital. IRD also determined that appointments in people’s homes were not sustainable, due to a lack of confidentiality and uncertainty over last-minute cancellations. The container space was devised as a solution.
The wellness centre was developed with the support of the British Asian Trust, Rangoonwala Foundation, the CareTech Foundation and the COSARAF Charitable Foundation. The centre can be extended at the Indus site using additional containers and, in the future, IRD hopes to open several more wellness centres in communities across Karachi.
Attending the launch were members of the IRD team, donors and partners. The event opened with a few words from notable guests, including IRD Pakistan Country Director, Aneeta Pasha; IRD Executive Director, Aamir Khan; Chairman of The Indus Hospital, Dr Abdul Bari Khan; and and Mr Atiq-ur-Rehman, representing Rangoonwala Foundation. It concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour of the centre.
The British Asian Trust has been working with Interactive Research and Development (IRD)’s Mental Health Programme, encouraging people to start conversations about mental health. We have worked together to run community awareness raising and participation sessions and mental health services. This work is supported by the Rangoonwala Foundation.