Black people in Britain are faced with the pressures of not being able to show ‘weakness’ publicly. The expectation that black females must always be “strong” does nothing to alleviate this pressure. Such expectation can be crippling, and it’s time this changed. We propose open dialogue about our daily stresses at home and in the workplace. Mental health has been pushed into the shadows for far too long.
This year the focus of Mental Health Awareness week is ‘Stress: Are We Coping?’. Modern society generally guarantees stress - being overstressed, however, is not conducive to a healthy life as stress is a major contributor to both mental and physical illnesses. Here are some tips on how to tackle stress...
Put simply,exercise release endorphins which make you feel good. Whether it's breaking a sweat in the gym or doing things such as taking the stairs, walking to work, or going for a stroll - be sure find the best ways to incorporate exercise into a busy day.
Create a balance
This is an overarching tip that can be used in multiple life choices. A balance in diet, alcohol/drug-intake, and work-life hours are fundamental to health. Doing too much of anything can cause stress and be detrimental to both mental and physical health. (More information on leading a balanced life).
Identify the source of stress
Being able to identify your source of stress is really beneficial - but often easier said than done. Studies report the top stressors in the UK to include money, lack of sleep, self-pressures and deadlines; you’ll have to do some self-reflection to figure out what may be causing you stress. By identifying your source of stress, you’ll be able to take more caution and, if possible, eliminate the stressor.
Whether it be reading a book, watching an old TV series, or going out to eat at your favourite restaurant- make time for this. Prioritise this task into your daily/weekly/monthly schedule. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself, it should make you feel better; and the better you feel, the better you do. It’s a win-win situation.
Information is power - do your own research about mental health and its impact on daily life. You can get information from health professionals, mental health organisations and from people you know. Some great websites that champion the need for inclusivity in the discussion of mental health include: Inside Out UK and SAIE.
Talk to someone
Despite the increased likelihood of mental health diagnosis in individuals of African-Caribbean heritage, there is a significantly poorer outcome in treatment. Black people have reported feeling ostracized from mainstream mental health services. Organisations such as The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network provide inclusive, accessible services.
Unfortunately, mental health is still a stigma in black communities but there’s no reason why this generation can't be the one to redefine being “strong” as being open and honest about mental health. Be sure to reach out to either us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use the links in this blog post if you need someone to talk to.
P.S. Remember that you don’t need to be diagnosed with a mental illness to look after your mental health.
Other useful links/organisations:
Mental Health Foundation How to manage and reduce stress
Mind, a mental health charity
Time to Change, mental health campaign reducing mental health-related stigma
Mental Health helplines
By Tomi Akingbade, Founder