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22 May

Mahira Khan, Sanam Saeed and footballer Hajra Khan discuss mental health & the power of kindness

Mental health

As an ode to mental health awareness week, the British Asian Trust invited strong Pakistani women to discuss the importance of mental health awareness and how crucial it is to get help. The discussion was joined by actresses Sanam Saeed and Mahira Khan along with the captain of Pakistan’s national women’s football team Hajra Khan.

It was heartening to see the shift in the way people view and talk about mental health as lack of public discourse has already turned it into a taboo subject. Kudos to our mainstream stars who have stepped up and moved these conversations about anxiety and depression to the public sphere. The stars rightfully pointed out that it’s not just the responsibility of psychiatrists and psychologists to talk about mental health. It’s something that needs to be integrated into society so people know how to deal with critical situations.



Hajra Khan has been quite open about her journey and struggles. She talked about her process and why she uses her position to highlight mental illnesses. “I was diagnosed in 2018 and I had been suffering from really bad anxiety since 2016. I have had such an unusual childhood that I never realized how I went through it. I feel it’s really important to accept it and to help other people relate to this situation. Many parents approached me, asking for help regarding their children’s mental health. I feel that hearing us talking about it encourages other people to get help as well,” she said.

The discussion also catered to the issues working mothers face these days. The time under lockdown has been quite challenging for women who aren’t used to this situation. It’s becoming a challenge for mothers working from home where the children are also constantly present and how it’s taking a toll on their mental well-being.


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Exactly 10 years ago my life changed. I was a 24 year old girl with a baby in my arms celebrating my 25th birthday. These ten years feel like a thousand… with experiences worth a lifetime. I became a mother, I became an actor.. there was loss and separation, I witnessed success and fame. I fell in love. I lost hope at times and mustered up courage most of the time. I realised some of my dreams.. And had to let some go. And on this journey, I had all of you with me. Every step of the way. I wish I could write it all.. maybe one day I will. I am so grateful for everything – all of it. We are nothing without the people who have stood by us – you all are the wind beneath my wings. I thank you with all my heart and soul. I promise you all that I will pay it forward in every way I possibly can. InshAllah. As I write this, here I am a 35 year old woman with a 10 year old not so baby boy, still wrapped in my arms. Thank you for the birthday wishes.. overwhelmed and overjoyed. Grateful. So grateful. Alhumdullilah. 🙏🏼🧿

A post shared by Mahira Khan (@mahirahkhan) on


Mahira Khan has been working in the entertainment industry for over a decade now. She talked about how she copes with the mental challenges of a working woman with a 10-year-old son at home.

“At this point in my life, I’ve realized that I need to protect my own self first. I think, as working mothers, we’ve had quite a challenge with this change in pace with lockdown. It was tough but it’s also been great for me because I’ve had so much time with my kid. However, I’m speaking from a place of privilege. I think we need to acknowledge that it’s been difficult for parents and even people in abusive relationships,” Mahira said.



They also talked about how social media impacts a person’s mental well-being. With such a strong social media presence, stars are often subjected to cyberbullying and trolling. Sanam Saeed is one of the celebrities who has faced random bullying and trolling on social media. Talking about how she deals with it, she said: “It didn’t take me long to realize that the bullies themselves are suffering from mental challenges. Their comments reflect their shortcomings and insecurities. My understanding was that these people are going through something and their comments are a reflection of their complexes. However, I also noticed what kind of comments bother me and why they affect me because that is a reflection of my insecurities.”

It’s about time mental health became a common topic of discussion in this country. So many people suffer in silence out of fear of being judged. There was so much more that was talked about during the webinar. You can watch the entire discussion here:



Eman Lakhany