Welcome to growing up Asian part three in the Fais Project blog series. Some of the topics we have covered over the past 2 months may have struck a chord with some of you. But I believe it is important to talk about these issues to shed some light and educate others around it.
If you missed any of our earlier blogs in the “growing up Asian” series, then click below to access any of the other blogs
Topic 1 – What will society think?
Topic 2 – The pressures of getting married
Topic 3 – Mental illness still a taboo? (This one!)
What is mental illness? Can we define it first?
Conferring to Mental Health America, A mental illness is an illness that causes mild to severe conflicts in thought and/or behaviour, resulting in an incapacity to cope with life’s everyday demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.
Also, they do not handily ‘go away in time’ like bruises or blemishes. They need to be rehabilitated and tended to.
Why is mental illness so “hush hush” in the Asian community?
Did you know…
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year?? Mind organisation reports that in England, 1 in 6 people have said they are experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. This is phenomenal, in terms of how many people are affected. Yet why is it a big deal to admit you have depression or anxiety in the Asian community? Do they understand what these terms mean?
Some people I spoke to told me that many fear admitting they have a mental illness because it would prevent them from finding a spouse. This is a concern for those who are looking for an arranged marriage maybe, or if the family think that this will be a factor that will hinder their daughter or son’s prospects.
Some Asians do not even think mental illness is a medical issue. They may believe that the mental illness is due to other circumstances, such as, superstitious belief that they are possessed by an evil spirit, or that someone has done black magic on their child, or that they are being punished for something they have done in their life.
An interesting point made is that there is no actual word in the languages to define depression. I’ve never come across a word in the urdu/gujarati/Pakistani language that directly means depression. It’s seen as when a person is down, it is just life’s roller coaster ride – it will go away. That they don’t need to see a doctor for a diagnosis as it is not an illness that is visible, like a cut or wound.
Black magic, the will of God or bad parenting are often supposed to be causes of mental illness. Treatment is necessary by medical practitioners to overcome these mental health problems and recognising the issue isn’t taboo, but quite manageable with the right help is key to moving forwards.
Have you seen this happen?
What do you think? Have you experienced this type of stigma over mental illness in your family? Have you seen anyone around you with mental illness struggle with the concept because of what others might think? Share your story with me, as I’d love to give you the chance to voice your opinions on this platform.