Before I start this article, I know that this topic is very controversial but light needs to be shed on this topic. A lot of times no one talks about controversial topics because they feel they will be criticised and most times they are. However, I believe that for a change to be made you only need one person to speak out. Ethnic minorities in general, not just uni students live with mental health issues and are even being medically treated for them. You can tell this is a touchy subject because it was difficult for me to find similar articles on it from well-known UK newspapers and publishers.
I guess no one wants to talk about their mental health disorder because amongst ethnic minorities it is seen as a taboo, especially within the black family. Mental health just isn’t talked about. I know from my own personal experience of being a black person, especially African that if I ever brought up the fact that I have a mental disorder or someone I know has a mental disorder it’s often dismissed and made light of. For the most part a lot of black people, more specifically African families don’t believe in mental disorders and this makes it so much more difficult for us to bring the subject to light. They believe that such things are demonic and don’t exist. They refuse to talk about it, full stop.
I tried to look for articles from The Guardian or Daily Mail about mental illnesses in ethnic minorities, but I couldn’t find any, not one. Such a serious topic yet none of these publications want to talk about it? I think that’s because it’s such a negative and dark topic, It is also a topic that will be very emotional for people who have mental disorders or know people who have them. However, in my difficulty through research I did come across some academic articles on this topic which means at least some people want to talk about it. There’s a report on a website called www.mentalhealth.org.uk which outlines that people from black and ethnic minority groups living in the UK are ‘more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems, more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital, more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment and more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.’
The mental health website report also says that ‘These differences may be explained by a number of factors, including poverty and racism. They may also be because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and meet their particular cultural needs. It is likely that mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It is also likely that mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.’ This seems very accurate because I would agree that a lot of ethnic minority people probably develop mental health issues because they can’t deal with prejudices from people due to their race, and living with poverty can also lead to depression or bipolar. I can imagine these factors affecting the rise of mental health disorders.
I feel the more we talk about mental illness the more comfortable ethnic minority people will be more willing to talk about it. You never know, talking about it might be the first step to getting rid of the illness completely.
Now when it comes to mental illness as a black or ethnic minority university student so many factors play a role. Peer pressure, school and parents, all play a big part and, we must do better as a group of people to make sure we stop mental illness going on the rise. I realised that more university students who are from ethnic minority backgrounds are being diagnosed with mental disorders or illnesses but prefer to keep it from their families and friends. They feel ashamed to talk about it and most of the time end up hurting themselves badly or killing themselves because they can’t take it anymore. We must act now before it gets worst!
It takes one person to make a difference and the more we tackle this issue the better it will be. We keep complaining about people dying from mental illnesses, but we don’t want to do anything about it.? Why don’t we stop talking and actually try to help? Nobody wants to find out that their friend or family has died because they couldn’t take being in this world anymore and they told no one about it because they were afraid of being shunned or judged. I know this sounds quite harsh but sometimes you have to be harsh to get your point across. This is a real thing happening as I write this article.
It’s very difficult for me to give the best advice on this issue because everyone is different and deals with things differently, and I don’t personally live with a mental health illness. However, my advice to anyone dealing with mental health issues is to speak to someone, probably a family member or a friend or if that feels unsafe for you then an outsider who you can trust, and put your heart on your sleeve with. Then, I would say if you have any idea or gut instinct that you may have a mental health illness please go and see a psychiatrist and seek professional advice or help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help. It’s not weak, people won’t judge you and so what if they do, it’s got nothing to do with them as to how you look after yourself.
I know as someone from an ethnic minority, especially if you’re black it might be very hard to bear all to someone you don’t know. But, that might be a good thing that you don’t know them because they can’t judge you. It’s part of their job not to judge you. Trust me, you’ll feel a whole lot better and if it doesn’t help you don’t have to go again. There are many other practical things you can do to cope with your mental health illness. You can listen to music, meditate, do some light exercise or even go to the spa.
I hope you can tell by reading this article that this topic is very dear to my heart because I’m becoming very sick of hearing that young black or ethnic minority people have died due to mental health illnesses, of which could’ve been prevented if they were simply listened to. I’m naturally a very sympathetic person and, I’m just fed up of seeing people suffer in silence or, even worse dying without at least trying in my own way to prevent it. My way of doing that is speaking out about it.
Here are some organisations which we suggest you check out. All of these solely on mental health within students and young adults, please follow them and support them so they can support you.