Leyla Hyda, Compliance Officer for HCL Social Care shares her experience of mental health services in the NHS, from both a personal and professional viewpoint. In her spare time, she volunteers as a spokesperson for Inspirited Minds, a mental health charity that has helped her better understand the issues in her community.

I have been blessed to be in the presence of amazing women who have been victims of abuse – to hear their heartbreaking stories and the troubles they have faced has enabled me to absorb their strength.

Unfortunately, there is a high percentage within ethnic minorities (predominantly the Asian community) that will not speak about their Mental Health due to their fear of being judged by their community, which is something I can completely relate to.

My personal experience

Many years ago, I opened up to my parents about the abuse that I had suffered for years by a member of the family and it was the fear of being branded ‘impure’ that I had kept quiet.

It wasn’t until another attempt at my own life had backfired that I decided that I had to make changes. I spoke to my parents and was extremely fortunate to have their support. It was then I realised, that if I could open up then so can others – and this misconception about being judged can be squashed. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for many.

Fifteen years ago (going by my own experience), the support given by the NHS was always there but never used due to sufferers fearing this would feed back to their families. I can only praise the NHS for how far they have come.

I now see so many doctors, psychotherapists, counsellors, nurses, social workers and support workers that are of an ethnic background. These practitioners have a deep knowledge of the cultural impact, helping them relate and understand their patients.

This is something that I had been very critical of before as I never had that help opened to me. I always felt that my doctor, my support worker and counsellor would never understand what it’s like to be ‘Me’, or understand what it’s like to have everyone looking at you and judging you.

The NHS is there for everyone

It’s such a breath of fresh air to know that the NHS has invested more time in reaching out to those suffering from mental health issues. They’ve done this by being more diverse and ensuring that others know that the help is there, they just have to reach for it.

Strengthening ties with the Police to ensure that those in the most difficult circumstances are protected is still a work in progress but it’s getting there.

From a volunteering viewpoint

In the past year, I am proud to say that I have been giving talks up and down the country. I’ve been educating communities about mental health and the importance of talking and treating ADHD and similar disorders. It gives me great pleasure to know that a lot of referrals have actually stood up and sought the help they need.

They are speaking to their Doctors, getting the help and support they need and they have stopped worrying about what others think of them. This is solely due to the support given to them by the NHS and how comfortable they have been made to feel.

It’s the broken ones with shattered hearts; their smiles can carry for miles. It’s our job as individuals to help make everyone smile by being that support and to advise and encourage others suffering from mental health issues to speak.

If you know anyone that is of an ethnic background that is suffering from mental health issues silently, please visit www.inspiritedminds.org where you can contact our support team and be allocated a qualified counsellor.

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