As a young Muslim woman with a BAME background, I have a lot of personal experience of the extra struggles that young BAME people face when it comes to mental health and seeking help.
BAME individuals are more likely to suffer increased mental health issues. There may be several reasons as to why this is. A primary reason is that BAME families with traditional, religious backgrounds may not understand mental health and its importance. For instance, being a Muslim from a traditional household, to have mental health issues means that you are not close to your faith and religion. Hence, if I were to ask for support when seeking help, I may be met with the response that I should pray more and try to strengthen my faith. For those who may be struggling with their faith, receiving such a response may worsen guilt and make one believe that they may not even deserve to reach out for help, which then creates a cycle of declining mental health.
As someone who is part of the Asian community, I often find that those who try to help themselves by trying to seek help are viewed as ‘broken,’ ‘crazy,’ and thus deemed unfit for marriage. This attitude towards mental health issues acts as a barrier against BAME women seeking recovery and, as a result, the mental health issues remain unresolved and worsens, and it doesn’t become any easier to talk about mental health.
Thus, understanding and trying to manoeuvre around such stigmas are incredibly important, especially if it concerns religion or culture.
Since the pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health, it is even more important to listen to the needs of BAME communities as they are disproportionately affected. We at JAN Trust understand that BAME voices must be heard hence we offer our services to marginalised women with the aims of empowering and uplifting women in society. Through programmes such as Against Forced Marriage, we aim to educate and inform about such issues.