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Impact of hate crimes on mental health

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In the UK the rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, with the last known statistic suggesting 1 in 4 adults experience a diagnosed mental health issue. The statistics suggest that 1 in 10 children and young people have a mental health problem including depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, with 70% of children and young people not having had an appropriate intervention at a sufficiently early age. This is worrying. What is more worrying is the constraints and challenges faced when attempting to access mental health services.

Having spent a decade working in the mental health field with children, young people and adults I have heard one too many narratives of how our community struggles to overcome the barriers and challenges which prevent people from accessing statutory mental health services. And for those who access services, the challenges they face are numerous.

Following the brutal austerity measures and financial crises here in the UK, as well as an increase in racist and Islamophobic hate crimes in a post Brexit society I question if we are experiencing further mental health distress. How does race intersect with the crisis people of colour experience at being disproportionately affected and diagnosed with the label of a mental health problem?

In July, several colleagues and I went to the streets of London and took part in a Black Lives Matter protest. Many of us were and still are outraged at the racial injustices towards our brothers and sisters. During the protest I felt at home with many of my black brothers and sisters and it reminded me of some of my driving forces. One of which is knowing that our mental health system has many flaws. More often than not, members of our community fall through the cracks or do not receive appropriate support. One way we have tried to tackle this issue is with the rise of grassroots community organisations.

With an awareness that our National Health Service continues to experience cuts, and staff are continually stretched I remain optimistic, although some might call me disillusioned. When we compare our mental health system with America for example, I consider the benefits of receiving therapy on the NHS. Many of my clients have often come from a lower socio-economic background which has meant that they would not be able to access therapeutic services if it was not for the NHS.

That said, people of colour face many challenges in accessing appropriate mental health support. We need a mental health system that acknowledges different knowledge systems and ontologies in order to better meet the needs of these communities. I believe that this can be achieved by inciting structural change within the systems which at times perpetuate the disparity of mental health care our cultural groups receive.

I have been fortunate to meet several psychologists and psychotherapists employed within the NHS tackling some of these concerns and encouraging a shift in white Western paradigms that are not always functional for people of colour. As well as working in the NHS, I also engage in independent work and through this avenue I am passionate for us to build safe spaces where we can have open and honest discussions about the difficulties and distress we experience as people of colour in Luton and Birmingham. If you are interested in self-care and taking care of your mental health please get in touch (author contact details below).

 

About the author

Dr Amirah Iqbal is a womanist, an advocate for equality, a counselling psychologist, a writer and an activist. She has worked with many disenfranchised groups in Birmingham, and more recently Bedfordshire, notably Black (African, Caribbean and Asian) communities. In her spare time she enjoys reading, travelling, painting (the key word being abstract), exploring, writing, meditation and prayer. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Image credit:  Jon Grainger


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Jamilla’s tips on dealing with anxiety around exam time (Part 2)

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Read Part 1 here.

In addition to depression, I was diagnosed with anxiety, which tends to worsen during exams. Even though I take medication for depression and anxiety, I still experience panic attacks before, during and after exams. I wanted to share with you a few things that help me get through exams without letting my depression and anxiety overwhelm me.
1. If, like me, you don’t really get nervous until right before the exam, then consider waking up as late as you possibly can (whilst still making it in time to the exam of course). This is because waking up hours beforehand will give you more time to stress yourself out. If you’re unoccupied, it gives your mind a chance to wander, to think bad thoughts or just play up your anxieties.
2. Make dua, lots of dua. When I don’t know what to do or if I’m scared and just need my mind to stop from wandering, I recite any dua or Surah that I can think of. The idea is to try something that helps you feel calm.
3. Don’t sit still. Go for a walk, pace up and down or even just move your legs up and down. I always find that movements distract me from my anxiety.

 

About the author: Jamilla recently graduated with a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and is VP of the Islamic Society at the University of Exeter. Follow her on Twitter@JamillaTweets.

Image credit: Photo by PracticalCures.com.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.


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Power from the Pain

Ice cracks

Thawing

Cold that was

But is there

No

More.

 

Torture and nightmares

Panics and horror

Irrationality

Loss – identity

Loss – confidence

Loss – reality

Crisis

 

The continuous cycle is

Paused

 

I breathe normally

Sensations come back

The ice within is consumed into water

 

I am controlled by me

No-one else

But by me

 

The cracks continue

The ice breaks down

It takes time

But I am happy to wait

 

Pain horror nightmares terror loss confusion crisis injustice disgust

 

A mixture bubbling under the surface

Behind the pretend face

The face that smiles

While the other one cries

 

I am happy to wait

Because I see its worth

To wait to know

To meet myself again

To know it is OK

 

I am in control

No-one else

But me

 

What I am is what I decide

What I want to be I can

Nothing is decided

Life can change

I can be free

 

I am in control

No-one else

But me

 

Pain horror nightmares anguish confusion terror loss injustice disgust violence

 

Never would anyone deserve these things

 

But they have happened

They happen all the time

And they have happened to me.

 

I understand now

I can say ‘I know’ and

Really know

What pain is

I can find the strength that was there all along

And use it

 

Enjoy it

 

I will know all these things and I will know it is there

 

I am in control

No-one else

But me

 

We change all the time

Time shifts with us

The same cannot really exist

Events will pass

 

Horror and ecstasy

 

Flash

 

Before us

I can see I can move

Through time itself

Tick past the horror

Tock past the nightmares

They will not stay with me forever

 

I am free

I can be who I want to be

I always could

But now I know

That I could

And should

 

We all deserve the same

 

When I say ‘I know’

now

I really know what pain is

It will define the other

The real happiness

 

I am free

Nightmares end when you wake up

I will not sleep forever

 

I will open my eyes and see

How I can make the world work for me

I will know it is OK

 

I am in control

No-one else

But me.

 

By Chloe Knibbs

@ChloeKnibbs1

Since Chloe was little she has always loved words and stories, and has written poems since she can remember! She is also a composer and singer-songwriter, and loves using music to help and inspire people.
Image credit: David Kingham