What is mental health?

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Let’s put it simply as the absence of wellness.

The World Health Organization describes mental health as

“a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

So, when you are unable to do these things, your mental health is not okay.

Our life experiences can have a profound effect on our emotional and mental well being. Many factors can contribute or increase chances of developing mental health difficulties in life, these can include stressful life situations/circumstances such as experiencing death, financial strain, childhood trauma. Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry, some studies also suggest that having mental illness in the family can make a person more susceptible to ill mental health. We often feel worried, sad or stressed and the feeling goes but sometimes these can lead to more serious problems. People look at mental health as one of those things “it can never happen to me or my family” yet we all know of directly or indirectly someone who has suffered or is going through mental health difficulties. Mental health isn’t just a personal business its everyone’s business, life can change suddenly leaving friends and family having to cope with difficult situations and decisions. Experiencing mental health can be an overwhelming experience, which can leave yourself/friends and family confused and upset with lots of questions. It can happen to anyone, in any profession or family.

Mental health still remains a taboo subject in many black and ethnic minority households. As black women we often mask our struggles the trope of the “strong black women” “independent women”, that we can show that we are struggle, have to be perfect or people will look down on us/ or value will be lowered etc facing social inequality and disadvantage, discrimination and social exclusion which can all bring about traumatic experiences further exasperating already present difficulties that black women face. The distrust of medical institutions often leads to mental health being left untreated or masked leading to longer term difficulties. Depression, Anxiety disorders, Schizophrenia, Phobia, Eating disorders, Schizophrenia, Personality disorders, Bipolar, stress, postnatal depression and many more.

Black women face many challenges to getting support at the right time and often report their concerns, Black women have unique experiences that are poorly understood in treatment circles-i.e., racial discrimination-police brutality-microaggressions at work-hypersexualising of young black females. Let’s not forget that historically mental health/ psychology evidence-based research had been mainly white male dominated lacking cultural sensitivity and variations to meanings and experiences.

Accepting support:

Mental health is just as important as physical health and need to be looked after just the same.  There has been a lot of work and continued work to dispel myths around mental health in black and ethnic minority communities but a lot of work still need to be done. The “strong black women syndrome” I hate the concept as it negates from the fact that we are human and often end up not getting the support needed. Support can come in many forms from medication to therapy but the conversation needs to start first.

Hi my name is Jupsine and I am here to talk to you all about mental health particularly how its effects black women. Over the coming months I will be providing stories, studies and the life experience of mental health and how it affects us in our daily lives, providing tips and resources, things we can do to manage/support and at times overcome it.

Come along for the journey and I hope my mini blogs provide you with insight, knowledge, support, tips and resources to use.

How you can help yourself when you going through mental health difficulties:

1.            Get support, book an appointment with your GP discuss your concerns, reach out to non-for-profit organisations like Mind for more information, support groups.

2.            Be vocal about your experiences or how you feel, find someone whom you can trust/feel conformable to talk with.

3.            When things are confusing write things down journal, will help with recollection later.

4.            Practice self-care, be kind to yourself.

How to help:

  1. Show your support/ask how you can help
  2. Don’t just talk about the illness, they are individuals too and want to live a fulfilled life.
  3. No pressure, be patient and present, encourage selfcare

Urgent help:

When there is a danger to life 999 emergency services should be first point of contact for support from the ambulance or police in cases of concern of violence or aggression. If the friend/family member is willing support them to local A&E for psychiatric assessment by a mental health practitioner.

Some site/contacts that can offer help. assessment done.

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