Growing up as a child in the Caribbean, I remember that any mention of the subject mental health meant that you were immediately regarding as crazy and liable to be sent to the mental home as locals would call it. Awareness around mental health was neverraised in the schools, community or church. In fact it was a taboo subject that now I believe in hindsight that we should have been discussing more.
Migrating to the UK, I learnt that mental health affects us all in one way or another both young and old. It a process or a stage that we all go through as a result of variousevents that unfold in our lives such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, illness,change in environment, the birth of a child and so much more. I am still however convinced that both the African and Caribbean community majority, here in the UK, stillinterpret mental health as a taboo subject. I believe that we have trained ourselves to develop a steel framed persona not allowing ourselves to inhibit any form or effects of mental health.
In our churches we don’t have the opportunity to talk and discuss mental health problems instead these sorts of conversations are misinterpreted as demonic. Talk of demonic can scare or place a barrier to persons coming forward. We know that there is a problem and we must find a solution as soon as possible. With the presence of the Covid 19 pandemic and the rise in the number of deaths from the BAME community, I am pretty sure that many persons are rightfully feeling anxious. This is a perfect time to talk, discuss feelings as well as fears instead of keeping silent and breaking down. This is the time that as a community, church, schools, organisations and individuals must come together to support and raise the awareness of mental health especially in the BAME community.
We should make time for each other even if it’s a telephone chat and coffee. Do not be afraid to speak about your fears and feelings. Mental health is real and can affect anyone. After all we are human.