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Mental Health in the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community in the UK


My name is Muhammad Khan, I am 36 years old and am a resident at a rehabilitation unit in Stockport, UK. I am a graduate of English and Politics and an aspiring fantasy writer.

As someone who has been sectioned numerous times and held in hospital for more than six years in total I have gone through many dark and difficult times. I have first- hand experience of the mental health service, of being sectioned and detained, taking medication, psychological input and being held at a PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) and spending time on acute wards and a step-down rehabilitation unit.

Over the past 13 years I have met many great members of nursing staff and patients on psychiatric wards and have been inspired by them. Sometimes it feels like I have wasted six years of my life in hospital, so I decided to do something positive with my experiences and started a blog.

Mental health problems have increased in all communities across the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the corresponding lock-down, so it is an appropriate time to address issues faced by the BAME community in relation to mental health.

We aim to be a platform for the BAME community to share their experiences.  What needs to be improved? How can mental health professionals instigate change? What is the best way of establishing a positive presence in the media?

BAME service users and mental health workers from psychologists to nurses are invited to write for us; in fact anyone who is interested in these issues can contribute. The aim is to shine a light on mental health in BAME communities including the Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Chinese communities.

Taboo

Another objective is to counter stigma in these communities where it is seen as shameful to have a mental illness. In the Muslim community for example, stigma not only attaches to the person suffering from mental illness but to their family as well. 

Mental health issues are not talked about in these communities and are considered to be taboo. So another aim is to start conversations about stigma around mental illness and educate people post by post. Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of; they can happen to anyone from any background.

Why is it that members of some BAME communities are more susceptible to be sectioned, hospitalized and diagnosed with a mental illness? I noticed this myself on the psychiatric ward in Oldham, that BAME patients were over represented.

“Stigma can be found in every community whether it is in the West or the East”

I believe there is much that can change; whether it is to change perceptions of mental illness in these communities to looking at alternative but complementary methods of treatment to psychiatry. I also believe patients should have more of an input into their treatment.

Unfortunately, the BAME voice is muted and doesn’t really have a platform, so we hope to raise pertinent issues and provide a voice to the voiceless. Our potential audience will be mental health professionals and service users and anyone interested in learning about mental health issues in BAME communities.

Stigma can be found in every community whether it is in the West or the East. Although over the past 50 years in the West, stigma has been tackled through education and by raising awareness, it still exists. Mental illness in many third world countries is still taboo and is attributed to demonic possession or the evil eye or being ‘weak minded.’

The primary focus of the blog will be my contact with the mental health service over the past 13 years. I have had five lengthy admissions so I am an expert through experience.  

Every week I will report world news in my own words and how it affects me. I have a passion for current affairs and journalism and will relate the news from a unique angle.

I will upload a mental health post every Sunday and a world news post every Wednesday so make sure you sign up for email updates. Hopefully you will be educated and entertained by my long story.

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