I went out with British Asian Trust in February to understand the situation regarding mental health in Karachi, Pakistan. As a student of Development Studies, I was very keen to learn about the social issues that exist in my native city, which I had not returned to for a decade. It is generally understood that mental health as a subject in the community, is quite stigmatised and hardly talked about in general discourse. So trying to understand this issue in an underdeveloped nation like Pakistan, is very difficult, as shown through our experiences where we listened to multiple women and men's personal journeys with mental health struggles. I travelled with my mother, Sarah, born and raised in Karachi. As a native woman, and Urdu speaker from birth, she very quickly gained the confidence and trust of the men and women we met. We listened to harrowing stories about people who suffered or are suffering from trauma, abuse, schizophrenia, and how it has affected their everyday lives, including the people around them.
We also saw how women with these issues were empowering themselves and bettering their mental health, by learning the skill of tailoring and gaining the business management knowledge to make those skills sustainable for themselves and their families. Having been on many charity trips into the field to witness and understand the problems in the communities, this is a cause that is unlike many others. Unlike tangible issues like drought or a lack of education which can be supported with material aid, because this revolves around individuals and families, the issues that these people face and the solutions required aren't visible. This does not make this issue any better or worse than others, it only requires a different perspective and an open mindset in order to help people through their own demons and struggles. Ultimately, a strong and supportive community of people will help to unlock the potential Pakistan has to offer, and as a young person trying to rediscover my country's heritage, I hope to see the new generation of the country thrive and bring it to new heights.