Mental health support for South Asian communities

In South Asian communities there is stigma surrounding mental health that is preventing people from accessing support, according to a special report.

Mind in Bradford and Leeds Mind held a series of focus groups with residents from British South Asian communities to find out their thoughts, experiences and ideas around mental health. The outcomes of the focus groups were collated into a report in collaboration with the The Equality Improvement Learning Exchange project. The aims of the project was to share and develop equality and diversity strategies, identify gaps in support, find out what services would be welcomed and learn how best to engage with different communities.

Stigma, shame, guilt and embarrassment were common themes with both men and women. Family pressures and lack of accessible information were also listed as barriers to accessing support for mental health.

Findings and recommendations presented as an infographic:

South Asian communities – Infographic by Hayley Smith

Recommendations from the women’s focus group:

  • providing support through school settings
  • providing support through learning other skills
  • peer support
  • using South Asian role models

Recommendations from the men’s focus group:

  • providing safe spaces
  • peer support

The full report notes that research shows people from South Asian communities are more likely to mask mental health issues due to cultural stigmas, and less likely to seek or access support for mental health problems.

“We want to break down barriers by going to communities, rather than expecting communities to come to us,” the report says.

Mind in Bradford and Leeds Mind are addressing the findings that surfaced by working to carry out the report’s recommendations.

You can read the full report on here.


Masira Hans talks to BCB Radio 

Speaking in a recent radio interview about the report, SMI Programme Manager Masira Hans, who co-led the groups, said: “There were similar themes around stigma, shame and embarrassment in both groups.

For the women, there were myths around ‘if I disclose I’m suffering with my mental health, I’m going to be classed as an unfit mother, or an unfit wife or daughter-in-law.‘ With the men it was similar, they were saying ‘if I disclose I’m suffering with ill mental health, then my standing in the community, my credibility as the breadwinner, as the person in control, as a protector of other people, is going to come into disrepute.’

“So it was very interesting – the themes are similar, but the nuances are very different. So it’s about how we tackle the nuances as well as the overarching themes.”

You can also listen to Masira talking about the barriers to accessing support in South Asian communities on BCB Radio below.

Masira also has a VLOG where she talks more about her own experiences as a South Asian woman here.

Posted on: 15th October 2021

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