Award winning activist Asha tackles cultural taboos in mental health nationwide.
Activist Asha Iqbal opened up Generation Reform to tackle the stigmas that BME communities face on a daily basis with open conversations designed to break down the barriers. This work extends also out of communities and within organisations where there may be lack of awareness about creating a culturally adapted well being service to employees as well as the service provided by orgainisations to BME service users.
In general, people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are:
- more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
- more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
- more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment
- more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
These differences may be explained by a number of factors, including poverty and racism. They may also be because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and meet their particular cultural and other needs.
It is likely that mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It is also likely that mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.
Asha Iqbal is an award winning founder of Generation Reform, public speaker and mental health campaigner. After growing up in an abusive household and suffering from various mental health issues including anxiety, self harming, suicidal thoughts, depression and PTSD; Asha has recognised breaking down mental health barriers is essential. “I suffered from coercive behaviour, honour abuse and so many cultural issues growing up and what people don’t recognise is the impact this has on an individual. We talk about abuse and crime but we tend to neglect the mental health impact and this is why I formed my org so I can address this through my workshops, public speaking and campaigns.” “For many years I neglected my needs on accessing mental health services due to the shame attached to it in the community and this is what saddens me as I still see this happen every day but I am hoping my voice and past experiences will open doors to many.”
Asha’s campaign impacts many with a consistent twitter engagement that hits 2 million per month, her voice echoes further than most long standing mental health campaigns and organisations. If you want to book Asha for public speaking, collaborative campaign; please email her on firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of Asha’s awareness work she talks openly about her own experiences etc and one of her most impactful videos was below when she spoke about having ‘suicidal thoughts’.
Talking about my own suicidal thoughts on @NevilleSouthall twitter takeover was hard! As you can see I was hiding it hard to control my emotions. This is the harsh reality of living with suicidal thoughts @RespectYourself @ReshKhan_ @MHChat pic.twitter.com/6dAdNfSHWl— Asha Iqbal (@_socialdrone) June 3, 2018
Judith Robinson, Development Librarian, Kirklees Library Service said:
Thanks Asha for the “Breaking down Barriers” talk and activity you delivered at Batley library. It was a really thought provoking afternoon and feedback was very positive. Seeing the range of attendees work together and discuss mental health issues was very inspiring. You created a trusting environment and people shared their stories and views and voiced concerns. The personal stories you shared built connections with people, and this made the afternoon feel very inclusive, caring and honest. Having you in the library gave us the chance to showcase the books and resources which support mental health – and also show that libraries are safe spaces. Thank you for promoting what we do in the library service to support mental health.
Hope we can work with you again.
In a personal letter to Asha, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The vital work of ‘Generation Reform’ is starting important conversations about mental health and wellbeing across ethnic minority communities. Your brave decision to speak openly about your own personal struggles with anxiety is breaking down stigma and paving the way for others to seek the support they need.”
Lindsey Bennister, CEO of ‘MQ: Transforming Mental Health’, which has also worked closely with Asha and ‘Generation Reform’, said:
“I’m really pleased to hear about this recognition of Asha’s work in taking on mental illness, it is thoroughly deserved. Having had the privilege of working with her on MQ’s We Swear campaign we have seen the enthusiasm and drive she has to make a difference. Asha’s bravery and tenacity has been remarkable as she had led by example in demanding better and influencing change. It is a real pleasure to work with Asha and see first-hand her commitment to transforming mental health.”