Dr Rosena Allin Khan MP is a member of the CareTech Foundation’s Advisory Council. Below, Dr Rosena writes about why the Foundation’s work on mental health is so important.
I am honoured to have been invited to join the Advisory Council for the CareTech Foundation recently, a role I accepted in large part because of the Foundation’s partnership with the new British Asian Trust Mental Health and Wellbeing for all programme, in South Asia. Being a practising doctor and of Pakistani heritage, I am excited to be able to support this powerful new programme to raise awareness of mental health in Pakistan and to ensure that 100,000 people with mental health problems have access to the necessary support within their communities.
As Shadow Minister for Sport and MP for Tooting, I have long campaigned on women’s rights, community cohesion and the impact of cuts to social care in the community. The CareTech Foundation’s collaboration with the British Asian Trust opens up exciting opportunities to engage with new partners in order to break down barriers to mental health provision and to reduce the stigma.
As a practising doctor here in London, I see the devastating impact of mental ill health first hand. Over the last few years, the ability to talk openly about the mental health issues which affect so many of us, has changed beyond recognition. The need to ensure resources and attention are focussed as much on mental health as physical health, represents a sea change. Sadly, in a country in which the incidence of mental health concerns are so prevalent, this revolution in mental health understanding has yet to happen in Pakistan, which is why this new programme is so vital.
In Pakistan, 1 in 4 people suffer from easily treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. The general negative misconception of those suffering from mental health problems can be disheartening and exclude individuals from their communities. Even when people are able to overcome the stigma associated with these issues, mental health services in Pakistan are difficult to access with only 3,729 outpatient mental health facilities available to over 50 million people.
It is to the credit of the British Asian Trust, the CareTech and COSARAF Foundations for highlighting this important issue and delivering a £1m partnership to drive long-term change. I am motivated in my role as a member of the CareTech Foundation Advisory Council to work towards meeting the Foundation’s goals of supporting sufferers of disabilities and mental health problems, supporting local communities and developing skills in the care sector.
The British Asian Trust’s Ramadan Appeal this year is focused on their ‘Changing Minds’ appeal to tackle mental health issues in Pakistan and across South Asia. Thanks to the CareTech Foundation and their partners at the COSARAF Foundation, every pound donated through the British Asian Trust’s Ramadan Appeal for the Pakistan mental health programme will be generously matched by the CareTech Foundation and COSARAF Foundation. I therefore urge you to consider donating to this year’s Ramadan Appeal. With your support, we really can change minds!