Shakti perspectives: Hasan J
My personal experience with mental health is, simply put years of un-discussed issues and challenges and a lack there of a proper supportive environment. I internalized all my issues, I never communicated any of my feelings adequately with anyone. I knew I was a little different, I knew I needed help, but for many years never sought proper help, simply because It was burned into my DNA that mental health= crazy people, this stemmed from a long battle with cultural stigmas and toxicity which made it very hard to ever truly be open with anyone such as friends, family and colleagues.
Recently I just had enough, my life has been going around in circles and I just got to the stage where I simply couldn’t care less about maintaining a “perfect appearance” for the sake of an ethnic community. I took that leap and spoke to a health professional, which I didn’t really feel understood the underlying effect of my mental health (not medically, but ethnically) my faith has wavered and at times been non-existent. Mental Health has engulfed a lot of my life. I have a mood disorder with anxiety, no that doesn’t mean I’m crazy, I’m sick of being called that to be honest, I function just like the rest of you and want to do so many great things but am held back.
My personal self-care revolves around the gym mainly. I first started gym because I wasn’t happy with my body image, but It very quickly turned into a place I could always run away to safely blow out some steam. I find having a routine and often avoids some of my anxiety, of course it’s hard sometimes to stick to it, but it helps me focus on what’s next during my day. Other things I practice for self-care include breathing exercises, and a recent behaviour that I have found is really helpful is good sleep hygiene, disciplining myself 1.5-2 hours before bed to ensure I get adequate sleep is really important, although some nights are still sleepless.
My Advice for others, is don’t ever bottle yourself up, if your struggling, reach out to someone, yes it is very hard to reach out to someone, but look closely at your current relations and ask yourself “am I comfortable sharing these thoughts with this person?” as ethnics for most of us we reside our deepest secrets amongst our friends (although not always as these are the same people that end up hurting us the most!). Try and identify emotional safety cues amongst your relations.
I come from a healthcare background, I have a particular interest in helping people through the nature of occupation, but being someone who has gone through the system with the mental health issues that I do have, I can understand how much work there is still to be done for our ethnic communities. It’s a really bizarre concept to from a healthcare perspective that we have to fight for good care, generally good care is always available.. But in this case we as collective group need to come together and fight for this cause. Think about our generations to come.. let’s make it easier for them to get the help they need and as mentioned earlier, there’s no solo hero amongst this, SUPPORT EACH OTHER! So if you’re going to take anything away from this, take this: be kinder every day and if you don’t have emotional capacity let your friends know, don’t shrug them off.
I think ethnic mental health is really stated, often we think our healthcare system is designed to be inclusive of all demographics, but when you consider the ethnic person, our backgrounds include immense toxic stigma around mental health and intertwined with a spiritual or faith background the concept of “ethno-centric” mental health is one that needs a lot more advocacy. Too many of our youth ethnic communities are resisting getting professional help due to this toxic idea that mental health= “crazy”, whilst others are advised to just pray.. Which is fine however sometimes prayer is not enough. It’s important to me, personally having gone through the health system and realized immense flaws with the mental health care frameworks, we need to advocate TOGETHER as an ethnic community about ethnocentric mental health care. Ive seen too many close ones get hurt by this silence killer and at the root cause of it all. It’s down to cultural and toxic stigmas, and this odd obsession of “perfection”: in the ethnic communities or looking perfect in the eyes of the community is creating a SERIOUS BURDEN.
I think for a lot of us we don’t even know what mental health looks like, we grow up with emotional scarcity and have to hold our own and amongst that process we become very self-sufficient, we hold trauma and wounds internally from abusive conversations, from friends that don’t understand us, family and work issues. Emotional support from our parents or the lack of it rather is really affecting our ability to feel emotionally safe to share what causes us pain and anxiety.
We need start looking at creating ethno centric orientated facilities. Yes, that’s right, facilities that are ethnocentric friendly and a space that addresses the challenges ethnic communities face in a way that doesn’t require you to first seek help (which is often a HUGE barrier for many due to religious and cultural norms). We need to just start laying the groundwork for generations to come and make it more acceptable for care to be provided. Our communities are too busy currently obsessed with perfectionism and refuse to accept the reality that many our youth are suffering with no avenues for help, some even abused for seeking help. We need to stand tall in the face of all this toxicity and build places that’s sole aim is emotional safety and a confidential manner. I encourage anyone interested in this to reach out to me or Shakti, as the first trial facility will be built in Perth WA within the next 1-2 years.
Ideally my dream is to create a national and international awareness of ethnic mental health and a special curriculum that should be taught alongside the current education frameworks for it on how to effectively treat and manage the issues. I want to build emotionally safe places and I believe everyone has a role to play in this, we have to work together to achieve this, we need ethnocentric database of health professionals and places. But I think for wider acceptance we also need less toxicity amongst each other as youth and to be better support each other.
Just want to add if ANYONE wants to reach out to me to talk about what they’re going through please reach out to me, I will do my utter best to help you (and if you’re not in Perth I will FLY OVER to see you!! Everyone is important to me!!) I’m currently getting my graduate certificate in mental health as well so that I can be more resourceful to our ethnic communities