World Mental Health Day 2020 – a BAME perspective

Addressing mental health issues can often be seen as a taboo topic within the BAME community. The reasons for this are complex and include both cultural and societal reasons. As an Asian male, I know mental health is treated as a “theory” or a “myth”; something that is not really there. In this blog, I want to touch upon the reasons for this, but more importantly, I want to share how I try to keep my mental health positive. 

The sensitivity of speaking about mental health from a BAME perspective was addressed by the Mental Health Foundation in 2019. My colleague Shannett Thompson has analysed this in her blog, “Mental health within ethnic minorities and why #KindnessMatters”­. The message from the Mental Health Foundation was that BAME communities “often face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to healthcare and overall mental and physical health”; reporting key issues which affect mental health in ethnic minorities such as racism and discrimination, social and economic inequalities, mental health stigma and interaction with the criminal justice system.

Shannett further explored the disparities in mental health amongst the BAME communities by exploring the Race Equality Foundation Report, which ultimately concluded that “black and minority ethnic communities are vulnerable to a range of mental health issues. They also have poorer experiences when they use mental health services and experience gaps in the provision of services which meet their cultural and linguistic needs.”

Shannett ended her blog by suggesting ways we could be kinder to each other and how we can overcome this stigma. I cannot speak for the masses, but below are things that I now do to keep my mental health fit:

1. Stop and breathe

2. Read 

3. Talk

4. Focus through motivational music, videos and podcast

Mental health is important, and although it is evident that the BAME community is still struggling, it is clear that everyone has their own way of dealing with it. My list is non-exhaustive, and by no means a remedy for everyone, but if you take anything away from this blog, please let it be to take a second away from our hectic lives and just breathe. 

Satvir Sokhi, Associate Solicitor and Chartered Legal Executive at Kingsley Napley Solicitors’ clinical negligence and personal injury team. Satvir (Sat) also serves on the Committee at the Society of Asian Lawyers.

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