Pakistan’s superstar Mahira Khan is appointed as the British Asian Trust’s newest ambassador. The actress is supporting the organisation’s ‘Peace Of Mind’ campaign. This raises awareness of mental health issues in Pakistan and Bangladesh, countries where almost 90% of people lack or do not have access to psychiatric support.
Khan is due to address these issues on 14th April 2022 at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London. Key guests like music producer Naughty Boy and Trust ambassadors like BBC’s Noreen Khan are expected to attend the event. The organisation has been founded by the Prince of Wales. Despite reaching 28 million people through SMS and social media campaigns in Pakistan, the Trust will scale up and prioritise marginalised children, who have suffered from severe trauma.
It is estimated one in four people in Pakistan experience mental health issues. However, the service dearth in the country means only one psychiatrist per half million people are accessible. A change is seen after over 46,000 people have attended mental health awareness-raising sessions in their communities. They were screened for mental health issues. Training has also been provided to 2,000 frontline health practitioners in basic mental health awareness.
In Bangladesh, The Trust works with leading mental health organisations to develop community-based services available to all through televisual and online services. A major concern, though, is the high rates of suicide among young people. Women and girls within rural areas are thought to be most vulnerable. Mental health is hugely taboo there.
Khan says: “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 to support so they can have peace of mind is critical. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.”
The actor is known for undertaking strong social films like Verna and Bol. Such titles champion women’s rights and fight patriarchy, addressing social stigmas. Having appeared in commercial hits like Raees with Shah Rukh Khan, she has worked with several charities and gained several awards over the years. Mahira is also the UNHCR’s first National Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan.