London: Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood hopes to make mental health less of a "taboo" subject in South Asia.

Azhar Mahmood
Azhar Mahmood 

Last week cricket stars from several countries gathered at a London hotel for Mahmood's benefit dinner.

But the dinner also saw more than 18,000 raised on the night for the mental health programme across South Asia backed by the British Asian Trust.

Asked why he had decided to focus on mental health, Mahmood told AFP: "It's because it's a taboo subject. Mental health is a major problem... Back home in South Asia, people have no idea about this stuff. We just want to raise awareness.

"We've already raised 18,000 ($30,000, 22,607 euros) and it was great that so many people came to support me and the charity," said Mahmood of an event where a cricket-related auction produced enough funds to support one hundred mental health patients over the next three years.