Mental Health in The BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Community

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My name is Muhammad Khan, I am 36 years old and am a resident at a rehabilitation unit in Stockport. 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 this blog.

Mental health problems have increased in all communities due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding Lockdown, so it is an appropriate time to address issues faced by the BAME community in relation to mental health.

This blog aims 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 the blog; 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.

“Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of; they can happen to anyone from any background.”

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 the blog aims 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.

Here are some relevant statistics from Mentalhealth.org.uk

“Risk of psychosis in Black Caribbean groups is estimated to be nearly seven times higher than in the White population.”

“Detention rates under the Mental Health Act during 2017/18 were four times higher for people in the ‘Black’ or ‘Black British’ group than those in the ‘White’ group.”

“Findings from the last Count Me In census found that the number of people in the Asian or Asian British groups who spent time compulsorily detained in hospital rose by approximately 9% from 2005 to 2010.”

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

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 this blog aims 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. 

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.

Read next post: My Memories of Beautiful Bangladesh >

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Yes it is a BAME GAME bro! While I was at hospital too, I was asked by a nurse ‘why, I’ve seen so many Bengalis with mental issues?’ I couldn’t really tell what she meant by it thinking she thought I was ‘faking’ for money. I feel Asians or Muslims may have more problems as our origins aren’t from Britain, where we have a different perspective and mentality to life than what we are taught in school. Or maybe it is just discrimination…loved your article auto bai

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  2. As a white man, who is currently studying to become a Psychiatric Nurse, I found this really interesting! I am really excited to read more of your stories as it would help to further my understanding of, not just inpatients, but of BAME inpatients and the added difficulties of belonging to this group.

    Keep up the good work!!!

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  3. Sometimes life takes us away in a mysterious world and we often get lost… So glad to know that you are finding your way. Absolutely awe struck.

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  4. Great writing, makes a change having someone with actual lived experience sharing their thoughts with us ‘professionals’ I look forward to future blogs, keep it up

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  5. Salaam My Brother! Happy to witness You recovering Well. My thoughts are with You! Love from a long lost Friend from School.

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  6. This was so awesome to read. Alhamdulillah. I thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life. Would love to read more about your experiences.

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  7. WOW!

    Very brave writing about this ‘taboo’ of a subject and to write it with honesty is absolutely amazing to see!

    I for one will look forward to your articles as I STRONGLY believe that we as ‘Asian Men’ should be able to talk about such issues.

    Keep up the amazing work!

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  8. I have worked within the Healthcare service (pharmacy)for more than 10 years. This is truly a touching article and from the heart. I am truly amazed and glad that you have taken the time to do this article. Everything in this article is spot on and I am hoping this will inspire more experiences to be shared. In our community we don’t really have a voice for this kind of topic as it definitely considered a taboo. I am sure many people will benefit from this. Impressive article with good statistics. Keep up the good work and I look forward to your upcoming blogs

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  9. Masha Allah nice to see someone being open and honest about their experience. Can’t wait for the next one. I still haven’t forgot what youndid for us in our youth . May Allah bless you . AMEEN

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  10. Great stuff and blogs like this will open eyes of people who don’t understand and who are unaware.
    Thankyou for sharing

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  11. You are very brave and inspiring for sharing your story. A true warrior. Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

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  12. Wonderful Article! Really enjoyed it and truly found this educational! Hopefully do see a change in the services etc. towards BAME communities. Keep up with it!

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