The Pakistan Cricket Board and British Asian Trust have signed a three-year partnership ©Getty Images

The British Asian Trust has become the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) charity of choice after the organisations signed a three-year strategic partnership.

The partnership will aim to utilise the voice and reputation of the PCB and Pakistani cricketers to tackle the mental health crisis in Pakistan, creating long-term change in the country. 

It was announced in the run-up to Pakistan’s Twenty20 and One Day International tour of England in May, which will be followed by the country's participation in the 2019 International Cricket Council World Cup in England and Wales.

A launch event will take place at The Savoy in London on April 25 at the start of the British Asian Trust’s Ramadan appeal, which aids the organisation's mental health work in Pakistan.

According to the World Health Organisation statistics, more than 500 million people in Pakistan will be affected by mental health disorders in their lifetime. 

There are fewer than 400 psychiatrists and 500 psychologists in the country to support them, however, as well as a widespread stigma attached to speaking openly about personal mental health and wellbeing.

The new partnership will educate people in Pakistan on the services and help available to those with mental health issues. 

It will also try to encourage people to be open about their problems in the hope more people will seek help.

As part of the partnership, Pakistan's cricket players and staff will be encouraged to learn more about the issue and speak out about it. 

This will include visits to local projects so they can find out about the work being done in country and meet individuals and families affected.

"We are delighted to be partnering with the British Asian Trust in what will be a groundbreaking partnership," said PCB managing director Wasim Khan.

“Driven by our values, we believe cricket has a huge role to play as both a catalyst for change and as a force for good. 

"The work of the British Asian Trust within Pakistan has made a huge difference in supporting mental health and wellbeing among some of our most vulnerable people.

“Mental health remains a taboo subject in Pakistan, having personally visited a mental health project in a poor area in Karachi, I have seen first-hand the difference that resources and skilled practitioners can make on the ground.

“As the PCB, we have an opportunity to play our part in raising awareness of this important cause."

The British Asian Trust has been supporting mental health programmes in Pakistan since 2011.

"We’re delighted to find a partner in the PCB who shares our commitment to tackle the mental health crisis in Pakistan," said Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust. 

“Since 2018, we have significantly stepped up mental health support in Pakistan. 

"As well as working with local partners to provide much needed services, we have always recognised that lifting the silence on mental health and educating communities is paramount to achieving real long-term change.

“Cricket is part of the lifeblood of Pakistan. 

"We’re hugely excited by the potential of working with a highly credible body and a high-profile cricket team to raise awareness and challenge stigma around mental health, both in Pakistan and internationally.”