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Shaz is a young South Asian woman who has been dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder. Shaz first started seeking help for her mental health during secondary school as she was dealing with self-harming behaviour, self esteem issues and depression; this led to her receiving counselling sessions from school which she found very helpful and was able to continue having throughout different points within her secondary school education. However, after leaving secondary school Shaz explained that she had limited support during her time at sixth form despite asking help from her teachers as there were no resources in place for this. As a result, Shaz stopped having counselling sessions for the duration of sixth form; she started counselling sessions again, however due to COVID these sessions stopped, and she decided to not pursue the rest of the sessions as she had to pay privately for them due to the NHS wait time being between 6 - 8 months. Shaz explains how her South Asian background has affected the support she has received for her mental health issues as she states how difficult it was growing up in Muslim/Asian household where mental health issues are seen as something that is dismissed. She was often told to go and pray, and the read Quran as this would make her ‘better’. However, she feels as though praying can only help so much; whilst praying does bring peace, it can’t replace the need for medical help. Shaz describes how her mental health issues started because she was queer and felt that she couldn’t be queer and Muslim. She was constantly told that she was going to go to hell and because of this, began self-harming to ‘punish’ herself to for being queer. However, after doing her own religious research into the Quran she has found some answers regarding her queerness. She also expresses that her main source of support comes from her partner; she explains that her family isn’t completely supportive of her relationship with a woman, rather they are just tolerating the situation for fear of losing their daughter if they are completely unaccepting. Due to the comments surrounding her queerness, Shaz expresses how she wish she could have gotten professional help sooner, but she was unable to confide in any of her family members and had to seek help herself. If Shaz was able to be completely open and honest with her mother about her mental health issues she would explain to her that she is trying her best, but some days she feels so low that she doesn’t have the energy to get out of bed or clean her room; she expresses that this is not laziness but rather the effects of having depression. When asked how she thought South Asian communities could better their response to mental health, she responded by stating the importance of being able to talk about mental health more openly with a positive attitude. She also said that mental health problems should be treated to the same degree as physical health problems; If people were as quick to help with mental health problem as they are with physical problems then it would be more beneficial to the person as they would know they could confide in someone and get help from their parents/family members.
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