Shakti perspectives: Mallika
I feel like there is not a lot of information or resources around mental health and wellbeing, nor are there safe spaces for people in our community to ask questions or build a better understanding of what's going on - like could you imagine if there were WhatsApp forwards that my parents could share that had helpful information on mental wellbeing!! I feel that community leaders or healthcare professionals that community members are already visiting, need to be better educated around mental health and wellbeing - ensuring that the people community goes to for information and advice that they trust, can give accurate information and learning. Also, there are quite a few toxic and unhealthy behaviours which impact mental health, that are normalised in the South Asian community - this is the same across all communities. Building awareness of the negative impacts of these actions could also make a huge difference - once again, doing this through creating non-judgemental and safe reflective spaces for these conversations.
I have struggled with my mental health over the years - and moving countries as a teen has definitely played a role in exacerbating that. I have been an anxious person growing up and that is definitely something that I now have the time and space to work on. The things that have supported me, especially over the last few years, have been my partner, my family and my best friends. I am very grateful that they all have been supportive of me working on my mental health and are always super understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have moments where I feel very alone in my thoughts and feelings - but overall, they have been an important part of my journey. I also have an incredible team of clinicians that support me like my AMAZING GP. Having workers that believe you when you say something is wrong is game changing - for a little while there it felt like no one understood what I was going through. However, l finally feel like I’ve found my professional and personal support crew. Please note that I ‘dated’ four psychologists in the span of one year before I found ‘the one’
I think there are loads of different factors that become barriers to mental health discussion for multicultural communities. The ones I have found most important are the lack of culturally responsive and mental health friendly GPs, lack of culturally responsive and affordable mental health clinicians, limited community understanding around mental health and well-being as well as how to access support and fears around accessing support impacting career and other prospects. For me personally, self-care is all about making sure I have met my basic needs - sleeping well, eating well and making time for movement. I am not a fan of physical exercise, but one thing I have been enjoying in the recent months is going for a walk with my dog. It's something I make time for every day, because I know if I don't, my dog will struggle to sleep through the night- thankfully it has an in-built reward system!
It’s awesome that there are communities like Shakti and Shapes and Sounds that have created niche spaces for community to connect and reflect on their mental health and well-being - having these non-judgemental and understanding spaces is game changing