Mental health in Pakistan

Pakistan has a growing mental health crisis with an estimated 50 million people experiencing mental health issues but unable to access support due to stigma, awareness and lack of services. To address this critical need, we have been working to improve the lives of people with mental health issues in Pakistan for over a decade to not only help those in need, but to fundamentally change the mental health landscape.

British Asian Trust Ambassador 

Sanam Saeed 

The more open we are about mental health, the more we speak up about the issues, the more we acknowledge the mental health crisis around us, the easier it will be for people to seek help, to support one another and to pay attention to their own emotions and mental health.” 

Neev And Sanam At Iftar 2018 (1)

The problem 

An estimated 50 million people (one in four) people in Pakistan will experience mental health issues. Stigma and poor awareness mean many people do not seek help, and 90% of those needing treatment cannot access support. This has worsened for many people since the COVID-19 pandemic and recent devasting floods.

Pakistan has only approximately 500 psychologists and 400 psychiatrists, with only a handful of child psychiatrists. We cannot rely on these few professionals to change the landscape of mental health in Pakistan – we need to all come together to highlight this very important and often neglected issue to drive change.

Our solution  

We want to fundamentally transform the mental health landscape across Pakistan by destigmatising and raising awareness of mental health, promoting accessible and affordable services for all and building coalitions of support to drive change.  

Our programme 

With the catalytic support of key donors, supporters and local partners, over the last decade we have been steadily transforming mental health awareness and services in Pakistan. To achieve the change we want to see on a national scale, our work is focussed on three key areas: 

  • Promoting access to community-based mental health services through primary health care setting and schools 
  • Reducing stigma and building awareness of mental health in the community 
  • Working together for systemic and policy changes for better mental health. 

Key projects

  • Integrating mental health into primary care services (2022-2025)

    Our flagship programme integrating mental health into primary health care continues to grow. We are training general practitioners on basic screening and support for mental health and including mental health care in telehealth and online services. By 2025 we aim to reach over 250 communities with basic screening and access to mental health support. We are also working to promote quality standards of care for community based mental health services.

    group of women in a mental health meeting
  • School mental health (2021-2023)

    Our school mental health project has trained over 160 teachers from 40 public schools to identify basic mental health issues in the classroom, provide basic support and make referrals. This helps provide a positive school environment which promotes good mental health for our youth and supports prevention and early intervention so problems do not escalate. We are also working with the Ministry of Health and Education to recognise mental health as important mandatory training for general practitioners and teachers.

    Pakistan School
  • Working with the most vulnerable street children (2022-2023)

    We work with extremely vulnerable children who are ‘out of school’ and experience mental health and substance abuse issues after experiencing extreme abuse and trauma. Our work also includes building the capacity of police, magistrates and child protection officers to better understand the vulnerabilities of street children.

    Rehmat 1
  • Reducing stigma and building awareness of mental health in the community

    We cannot drive change without tackling the stigma associated with mental health issues and building awareness by bringing attention to the cause. We have reached millions of people through our campaigns and direct messaging in communities where we work. Our celebrity Ambassadors such as Mahira Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Hajra Khan and Sanam Saeed are amazing champions for mental health and have helped us reach out with kindness and hope, giving people the courage to seek support.

    Pakistan Celebs
  • Working together for systemic and policy changes for better mental health

    Building systemic solutions and advocating for policy change can drive catalytic changes which impacts on whole populations. We are one of the founding members of the Pakistan Mental Health Coalition. The Coalition successfully advocated to decriminalise suicide and is strengthening regulation and care standards in mental health. We also work closely with the corporate sector and government.

    Mental Health Event
Chief Executive Officer, CareTech Foundation

Jonathan Freeman MBE

“Working with the British Asian Trust allows us to reach thousands of people in need of mental health support in Pakistan and bring attention to the topic of mental health care.” 



Latest news about our mental health work in Pakistan

  • Blogs

    The Importance of Mental Health First Aid

    569A9281 (1)
  • Blogs

    Healing Karachi’s invisible scars

    Save Our Children 1 (3)
  • Blogs

    Mental health: Supporting schools and students

    Shutterstock 413265469
  • News & events

    The British Asian Trust and the Mir Khalil ur Rahman Foundation sign MOU for upcoming mental health campaign

    Milkar MOU Signing (5)
  • News & events

    The importance of ethical principles for mental health professionals

    Pakistan Mental Health Workshop May 2023
  • Case studies

    Mental health: Abrar’s story

    Mental Health (1)
  • Blogs

    A rare prize

  • Case studies

    Mental health: Mahmuda’s story

    Mental Health Bangladesh Mahmuda
  • Case studies

    Mental health: Madiha's story

    Mental Health Artwork
  • Case studies

    Mental health: Talal’s story

    Mental Health (3)
  • News & events

    Roundtable discussion: Strengthening mental health in Pakistan

  • Blogs

    It’s time teachers prioritise mental health

    It’S Time Teachers Prioritise Mental Health
  • News & events

    Mahira Khan visits British Asian Trust’s mental health project in Karachi

    Mahira Khan Visits British Asian Trust’S Mental Health Project In Karachi (2)
  • Case studies

    Mental health: Rehmat's story

  • Blogs

    Bringing Peace of Mind

    Bringing Peace Of Mind


  • Mental health; Lifting shadows 2018 - 2021

    Mental Health Lifting Shadows 2018 2021