NHS BWAE 1928 - Digest Of The Mental Health Workshop

Digest of the Mental Health Workshop Bangladeshi Women’s Association Essex 3 Solma Ahmed Mental Health can kill. It killed my cousin 20 years ago. It stopped my dad from functioning properly. However, we did not understand or recognised this killer disease. Even when we did, we were ashamed to talk about it. The stigma attached to mental health issues is a silent killer. The system also let us down. My father suffered from anxiety and panic attacks after the restaurant he used to work for was attacked by immigration officers in the late 1970s. He never recovered. I saw the impact but neither my family nor doctors recognised his illness. My cousin on the other hand suffered from depression but she was only offered tablets to control her depression, even when the family asked for a culturally and religiously aware service. She was a highly educated, articulated, beautiful teacher in her 30s. So the system let her and my father down. They both died in year 2000, my cousin killed herself and my father from a heart condition. I miss them both and wish I was wiser to understand mental health issues. Recently, I went through depression during Covid, as did many others frommy community. Again, I could not access services that met my needs. The online system of booking an appointment was useless even for me, an educated woman who knows things or two about the digital world. In the end I settled with family helping me through this very difficult time. This is the tip of the iceberg. We began to see cases of desperation, maybe because of Covid people felt more able to talk. This is why we thought we should break the stigma around mental health and start debating, recognising, understanding what’s happening in our minds. So, we embarked on holding a two-day event in March 2022. Day 1 was about engaging with people from the Muslim community with Islamic professionals to break down some the myths, stigma and barriers to mental health, and to let the community open up a discussion. Day 2 focused on health professionals understanding what’s happening for the Muslim community and how they can help us to improve mental health services. This report from the workshop is our attempt to explain what’s going on in the community and how the health system can support us in moving forward with mental health issues. Solma Ahmed PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR, BANGLADESHI WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION ESSEX “It was heartening to be a part of this valuable workshop that gave the Bangladeshi community the tools and empowerment to speak about their mental health. I echo that recommendations need to be implemented both in the clinical setting and in the community. Many community members stated that they do not feel comfortable accessing clinical mental healthcare and require more nuanced support in the community.” Apsana Begum MP MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR POPLAR AND LIMEHOUSE