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Let's discuss BAME communities and mental health

By Fatima Mohamed

The question is raised - why is there a lack of conversation when it comes to the BAME and mental health?

Those in BAME communities face many unique challenges when it comes to mental health. Firstly, there is the cultural taboo that is associated with mental illnesses. It is seen as a source of shame, which makes it harder for individuals to recognise it as they distance themselves from the labels that mark them as social outcasts. Also, there are misconceptions is held in some communities, who do not acknowledge the existence of mental health. Institutional racism, socio-economic disadvantages, language barriers and the fear of stigma all present themselves as major limitations to BAME members speaking out about their experiences.

Although the rise in mental health awareness in recent years has helped, the way in which BAME are being treated and are able to access vital mental health care is still unsatisfactory. According to Rethink Mental illness, black males are more likely to be detained under the mental health act and older South Asian women are an at-risk suicide group. Despite these statistics, the BAME continue to be under-represented in primary mental health care. Increasing BAME access can only be achieved when their voices and lived experiences are at the centre of every mental health talk.

Here are some steps that you can take to look after your own mental health:

  • Talk to somebody you trust – talking about your feelings can help make you feel less alone and can feel like a weight lifted off your shoulders.

  • Staying active – regular exercise, whether it's going for a run or at-home work outs, boosts self- esteem and helps in reducing stress and anxiety.

  • Eating well – having a nutritious and healthy diet is not only the key to having great physical but also great mental health. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.

  • Practise mindfulness – Paying more attention to our own thoughts and feelings in the present can help improve our mental wellbeing.

  • Do something you love – setting aside time for hobbies such as painting, reading, sports or even eating out with friends can be really beneficial for our mental health.

  • Seek professional help – remember, it is always okay to ask for help and there are a lot of avenues that you can turn to for help such as speaking to your GP, talking therapy or getting in touch with mental health charities.

Lastly, here are links to some useful mental health charities, and remember: you can always contact Midaye if you need information or support.


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