Mental health in the Asian community

Time to Talk Day 7 February.

‘..one in four of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to talk about mental health.’

This year the theme is having the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. This could be from having a private chat over a cup of tea to hosting an open event where strangers can get together and share their experiences. Whether it’s private or public it’s all about creating a comfortable, non-judgemental environment where anyone and everyone can feel safe to talk about mental health whether it is their own or someone they know.

Despite all the work being done to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health there are still communities that do not understand mental health and see it as an illness that will go away with some tablets, it is a punishment that can be treated by praying more or by carrying out particular rituals.

Those in the Asian community living with a mental health illness may keep this a secret from their family, friends because of the stigma still associated with mental health and the fear of being ostracised. Then there is the fear of what society will say if they found out, what they will say about the parents, who will marry them.

‘…kept their illness secret from their spouse for more than 20 years.’

My own brother has Asperger’s, our own parents didn’t really understand what this meant and what it meant for my brother. It wasn’t something anyone in their family has come across before, this it isn’t because no one else had been diagnosed with autism but because it isn’t something that is recognised or acknowledged. In there minds there was nothing wrong, which in some ways is a good thing because my brother is capable of doing many things but his normal is not the same normal for everyone one else.

I don’t want readers to think that families / friends don’t care but to understand that this isn’t a community that wouldn’t come together. No one should have to hide how they feel but it isn’t easy to break the mould, to go against cultural thinking and traditions that have been ingrained from childhood.

Changes are happening

Culture has a way of adapting without breaking traditions. For many people religion is part of their identity who may feel that being mentally unwell could compromise that relationship it can make seeking help and starting the recovery journey more difficult. This doesn’t need to be the case, religion could help those with mental health by teaching that religion doesn’t turn their back on those who are suffering but giving them the tools to find inner strength and seek help.

Coming together

Within the Asian community there are three main faiths, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism. Throughout history and even still today relationships between the three religions can be strained at times but not in the world of mental health. There are support groups specifically aimed at those of each religious group but will openly encourage and support each other.

When it comes to helping each other even though we may have different ways of practicing our faith it all comes down to one things, being a decent human being and helping each other out. No deserves to be alone.

Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN)
Sikh Forgiveness
Bengali Mental Health Movement
South Asian Health Foundation
Mind
Rethink

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Dog+Yoga=Doga

Are you concerned about your dog’s wellbeing? Do you think they are a bit stressed and need some support?

Then doga could be just the activity for you and your dog to reconnect with each other in a calming and relaxing environment.

I struggle with yoga sometimes, throw a dog into the mix and I sense carnage instead of calmness, my dog Rocco who gets distracted by his tail. 

If this works for you then great but think I’ll pass.

A spoonful of sugar…

The sugar lies on the black background
Image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com

New Year always brings new goals and aspirations that for the average person don’t usually last past February.

Which is why two work colleagues and I decided to take part in the Staff Engagement team’s New Year New You challenge that takes place over January, one month is enough for us. Each week the Staff Engagement team issues weekly challenges with prizes at the end. We were issued our first task, 7 January where we had to record our sugar intake; this included both natural and refined sugars with a limit of 30g of sugar per day, going by how the week went I doubt we’ll be winning any prizes!

This is not as easy as you think, my diet isn’t the worst but it could also could be better.

Monday was the start of this educational week. Ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter on toast, with banana and honey. I thought it was healthy. Then I got hungry an ate a Muller fruit corner yoghurt.sugar_new year new you

The banana had 12g of sugar, a banana! Muller fruit corner yoghurt contained 14g. Good think I opted for peppermint tea was fine and not my usual of caffeinated tea with milk and two sugars.

Afternoon snack was an apple,15g, that’s it I was done I had exceed the limit! Not chocolates, not cake but fruit had pushed me over the edge and maybe the muller yoghurt had something to do with it.

That was pretty much how the rest of the week went.

Fast forward to Friday when I drank a homemade protein milkshake, I didn’t even think there would be sugar in milk, how wrong was I. According to Google 1 cup of semi skimmed milk contains 12g of sugar. Team that up with the banana and two frozen strawberries I was already nearing the set 30g daily limit. I can’t wait for this challenge to be over.

Overall looking at what I ate in a day did have some benefits; I noticed that the majority of the sugar I was eating was natural sugars from fruit. I rarely drink caffeine tea these days but when I do I have 2 teaspoons of sugar with it plus milk.  Even then it wasn’t enough refined sugar that I risked having a sugar crash later in the day.

I do think that with the daily exercises I wasn’t eating enough which might be why i was feeling tired and having headaches. That won’t be happening again, making sure I have plenty to eat throughout the day.

Let’s see if I do any better in the next challenge.

Trousers are a bit tight

Since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating.

I’m not one to monitor my calories or obsess about the scales but since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating. Fortunately, I’ve not ever been overweight but the past year the weight has been creeping up with those trousers getting a tad bit tighter that I can get away with not doing the hidden buttons up.

Three weeks ago I started a some high intensity interval training workouts which I do on alternate days to the kickboxing YouTube videos by Jessica Smith.

I’ve tried the Plank workout by Emi Wong, afterwards it took me two days to be able to cough without my abdominals aching. You think I would have stopped here but no, a day later I did the Low impact HIIT Cardio workout by Joanna Soh, don’t let the title fool you, I still haven’t managed to complete the entire routine. I get to the second to last move then collapse. In both cases after the workout I ended up needing to lay down thankfully not in the recovery position but to;

  • let my body figure out how to breath normally again
  • allow my vision to return to normal from all the sweat

fitness clothes_v2The husband has also gained a few pounds but is not willing to partake in the morning workouts before work. So we have decided to go on weekend family jogs / speed walking for the dog. Wearing our new trainers and joint supports we started last Saturday were surprised that we managed a mile. This was also with the dog stopping to sniff at every blade of grass, and peeing at every tree trunk to mark his territory. I think the dog was pacing us he knew we need the jog on the spot breaks to break us into this brave new world.

Laugh all you want at my suffering yet despite the sore muscles I have noticed a change in how I feel; more energised and hungrier. My trousers have started to feel a bit looser, enough that I can now do all the buttons up!