"No one should ever have to suffer in silence.”
Pakistani actress Mahira Khan has been announced as the newest ambassador for the British Asian Trust.
The trust was founded in 2007 by the Prince of Wales to support the most disadvantaged communities in South Asia.
With almost 90% of people in need of mental health treatment but having no access to any kind of support, Mahira is supporting the British Asian Trust’s current Peace of Mind campaign.
This campaign aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and needs in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
On April 14, 2022, Mahira will provide the keynote address at the Trust’s Iftar event at London’s JW Marriott Grosvenor House.
The Trust plans to scale up its work by building even more awareness, reaching more people and providing more access to community-based healthcare, referrals and support.
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust, said:
“We are delighted to have Mahira Khan, one of Pakistan’s greatest superstars, join us as an Ambassador.
“Mahira’s voice will be incredibly powerful in helping us to lift the silence on mental health and improve access to services in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“The need in both countries is great and we’re already having an impact on changing lives, we can’t do this work alone.”
Mahira said: “I am proud to be an Ambassador for the British Asian Trust and support their work in South Asia.
“Their mental health work in Pakistan has been ground-breaking, reaching millions of people but there is more to do.
“Untreated mental health issues can have a devastating impact on individuals, families, lives and relationships.
“Talking more about mental health, breaking the stigma around it and helping more people access support so they can have peace of mind is critical. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.”
In Pakistan, 25% of people will experience mental health issues.
However, a lack of service means that there is only one psychiatrist per half million people, compared to one for every 10,000 people in the UK.
The stigma associated with mental health also prevents people from seeking help.
In Pakistan, the Trust’s work in mental health has reached 28 million people via SMS campaigns and social media activity.
More than 46,000 people have attended mental health awareness sessions and been screened for mental health issues.
Training has also been provided to 2,000 frontline health practitioners in basic mental health awareness.
In Bangladesh, suicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents. Women and girls, especially those in rural communities, are particularly vulnerable.
The majority of Bangladeshis have no access to mental health services and they are met with social exclusion.
With the necessary support, mental health conditions can significantly worsen a person’s well-being, leading them to become isolated.
They can also lead to alcohol and drug addiction, hospitalisation, severe depression and even suicide.
As a result, the Trust is working with leading mental health organisations to develop community-based services available to all through tele and online services, as well as tackling stigma in the workplace and communities and encouraging those in need to seek support.