'BAME' Mental Health

'BAME' Mental Health
My name is Muhammad Khan, I am 36 years old and am a resident at a rehabilitation unit in Stockport. I am a graduate of English and Politics and an aspiring fantasy writer.

As someone who has been sectioned numerous times and held in hospital for more than six years in total I have gone through many dark and difficult times. I have first- hand experience of the mental health service, of being sectioned and detained, taking medication, psychological input and being held at a PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) and spending time on acute wards and a step-down rehabilitation unit.

Over the past 13 years I have met many great members of nursing staff and patients on psychiatric wards and have been inspired by them. Sometimes it feels like I have wasted six years of my life in hospital, so I decided to do something positive with my experiences and decided to start a blog.

Mental health problems have increased in all communities due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding Lockdown, so it is an appropriate time to address issues faced byBAME communities in relation to mental health.

My blog aims to be a platform for the BAME community to share their experiences.  What needs to be improved? How can mental health professionals instigate change? What is the best way of establishing a positive presence in the media?

Another objective is to counter stigma in these communities where it is seen as shameful to have a mental illness. In the Muslim community for example, stigma not only attaches to the person suffering from mental illness but to their family as well.  

Mental health issues are not talked about in these communities and are considered to be taboo. So my work and blog aims to start conversations about stigma around mental illness and educate people post by post. Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of; they can happen to anyone from any background.

Here are some relevant statistics from Mentalhealth.org.uk

“Risk of psychosis in Black Caribbean groups is estimated to be nearly seven times higher than in the White population.”

“Detention rates under the Mental Health Act during 2017/18 were four times higher for people in the ‘Black’ or ‘Black British’ group than those in the ‘White’ group.”

“Findings from the last Count Me In census found that the number of people in the Asian or Asian British groups who spent time compulsorily detained in hospital rose by approximately 9% from 2005 to 2010.”

Why is it that members of some BAME communities are more susceptible to be sectioned, hospitalised and diagnosed with a mental illness? I noticed this myself on the psychiatric ward in Oldham, that BAME patients were over represented.

I believe there is much that can change; whether it is to change perceptions of mental illness in these communities to looking at alternative but complementary methods of treatment to psychiatry. I also believe patients should have more of an input into their treatment.

Unfortunately, the BAME voice is muted and doesn’t really have a platform, so my blog aims to raise pertinent issues and provide a voice to the voiceless. Our potential audience will be mental health professionals and service users and anyone interested in learning about mental health issues in BAME communities.

The primary focus of the blog will be my contact with the mental health service over the past 13 years. I have had five lengthy admissions so I am an expert through experience.  

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