Intersectional Talks: Mental Health in Communities of Colour

On the 22nd June, we were joined by Ceyda Keskindemir to have a discussion on the role of mental health in communities of colour. Ceyda has a master’s in Clinical Psychology and has worked as a psychologist at I-Psy (intercultural psychology), focusing on culturally sensitive therapy. Currently, she works at HvA as a psychology teacher. She focuses predominantly on issues such as diversity, identity, sense of belonging, and its impact on psychological wellbeing.

First, we discussed the impact of structural issues on mental health, which can often cause mental health issues within communities of colour. Between us, we discussed a few issues, which are by no means exhaustive.

  • Parental expectations is very health in communities of colour. The idea of parents throwing away their own dreams to provide for their children is a very common narrative and can often lead to a very toxic relationship between parents and child.

  • Due to this, children can often experience strong feelings of guilt, having seen their parents struggle to provide and support them.

  • State of survival is so intrinsic in communities of colour, and mental health is often seen as a luxury, which focuses more on living than surviving.

Structural issues, as well as discrimination, can have a strong negative impact on communities of colour. However, often, such communities due not seek mental health services at the same rate. We then discussed reasons for this. One of the biggest topics we discussed was the role of stigma, and how is creates barriers to access to mental health services. Stigma is always a barrier to access; however, it is bigger in certain communities, but why is this?

  • In a lot of communities, there is a lack of awareness about what a psychologist does. Ceyda talks about in her own family, that didn’t understand her career choice. There is also a lack of awareness about mental health in general, and that people can be unaware of the mental health issues they have.

  • The shame of trauma is also a contributing factor. Particularly in smaller local communities, people are worried that they might be seen or recognised going to therapy.

  • People are also afraid of not being taken seriously- particularly people of colour. A good therapist will always make you feel seen, hear, and taken seriously, but there are examples of this not being the case, which deters people from attending therapy.

  • The financial aspect also deters people. While it is free to go to the GP, seeking psychologists can still be expensive. Additionally, people don’t have the time, and because of these factors, it also becomes a class issue.

After this fruitful discussion, we then switched our focus onto the solutions. What steps can we make, to make therapy more accessible. Overwhelming, the response was about creating awareness and reducing stigma. The more we talk about mental health with our friends, our families, and our communities, the more we can reduce stigma and show people that mental health is just like physical health; if there is a problem, you need to seek help.

If you need any help gaining access to mental health services, please reach out to us via email or DM.

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