Mental Illness is still a Taboo in the BAME Community

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I am a survivor of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by multiple, severe sexual violence acts by those I know. This journey has been hell and I still have a long way to go.

I have always been seen by family and close friends as strong, don’t take no shit, can stand my ground. When I have shared my story several have said “why didn’t you fight back?” I thought you were strong? Until you are in that situation you will never understand.

Growing up I thought family looks after family as I would have killed for my family…but over the years it has taught me a valuable lesson. The only person you can trust is yourself.

In the BAME community we have always been told what happens at home stays, this also applies to mental distress. Mental distress is a topic shunned and hushed upon. Many perceive it as being “cursed”, caused by the “evil eye” and all we need to do is “Pray about it”, “leave it in gods hand” “ask for forgiveness”. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with praying for recovery from a mental health condition, but we still have to be proactive in getting help. We can’t “pray away” a mental health condition. We have to get help. And I am living proof of that.

 When it comes to mental health in the BAME community, there is very little compassion or empathy. Success is measured by achievements and material possessions.

Speaking up about traumas instigated by “family” members is nerve-racking , this probably stems from being loyal to our family. It makes you question those closest to you and the trust you put in them.

We may spend several years with internal conflict questioning ourselves “Do we get support?” “ Will this cause disgrace to the family name?” “ Will we be disowned?”.

As hard as it may be, sometimes we simply have to swallow our cultural pride, forget where we are from and what we’ve known in order to move forward and proactively get help. I am living proof of this.


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