“There isn’t a lot of language around how to describe mental health within our community. The first thing that I used to think about is I’m going to get labeled as someone who’s just mad and crazy because that’s how people start to see you. They start to think that there’s something very wrong with you. They might not want to talk to you because they think that you’re not normal.
I think that’s very sad. The more that we do share, the less shame. And the less insecurities we have about sharing our stories, the more it will become a normal part of a conversation as we do with other things, so it’s really taking back that control.”
Mental Health is a topic that is still massively misunderstood in our community. This episode is the first of a series that will be looking at the challenges women face that impact their mental health, and how we can acknowledge, heal and protect it.
In today’s show, sister Harmeet Bharya speaks candidly about her mental health and the impact it has had on her life and health from losing her baby to feeling suicidal. Join our conversation to find out how Harmeet faced some incredibly dark moments in her life and how she came through it stronger, empowered with a positive attitude and outlook.
Trigger warning: viewer discretion advised – themes of baby loss, postnatal depression and suicidal thoughts
Note: This podcast is supporting the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign. Every Mind Matters is a digital resource to empower people to look after their mental health and support others. At its heart is a ‘Mind Plan’, a free, NHS digital tool that enables people to create their own action plan to help them take simple, practical steps to look after their mental health.
WARNING: By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as a medical or mental health advice to treat yourself or others; please consult your own physician for any diagnosis.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on these podcasts are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Not Another Mum Pod’s management or of any sponsors. Any content provided by our contributors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, identity (gender or sexual) club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
The Better Health’s Every Mind Matters aims to support the nation’s mental wellbeing by sharing the little things we can all do to look after our mental health, helping us to lead happier, healthier lives and cope with life’s challenges.
If you search for ‘Every Mind Matters’ online, you will find a free NHS approved mind plan by answering five simple questions. You will get a personalized mental health action plan with practical tips for helping to deal with stress and anxiety, boost your mood, sleep better and feel more in control.
Search ‘Every Mind Matters‘ to see what works for you.
Where to get help:
We’re not able to give medical advice but if you feel like you need some, contact your GP or visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111. If you have seriously harmed yourself or your life is in danger it’s important you seek medical attention urgently. Please dial 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Whatever feelings or situation have got you here, there are people who want to help get you safe.
The following free listening services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can talk about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or you can email them on email@example.com for a reply within 24 hours
- Text SHOUT to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text line – or text YM to the same number if you’re under 19
- If you’re under 19, you can also call Childline on 0800 1111 (the number won’t appear on your phone bill).
When we are bereaved, we are likely to feel waves of intense emotions as we come to terms with loss. These can include sadness, guilt, shock and anger. Try not to worry as these are all common reactions – there is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief affects us all in different ways, but the important thing is to grieve and to have the right support to do this.
- You can learn more about grief and support available through: The NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-bereavement/
- Or Cruse Bereavement Care: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-bereavement-and-grief
Child Bereavement Services
Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, provides support for anyone affected by the death of a baby. You can:
- Call the Sands confidential helpline on 020 7436 5881 – 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, plus 6pm to 10pm Tuesday and Thursday or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also many other self-help groups in the UK for bereaved parents and their families. You can search for bereavement support services in your area.
Intro, some questions that were asked and the ending
Please note: this episode is triggering. We will be talking to Harmeet Bharya today about how she had faced mental health challenges due to losing her father, postnatal depression and a miscarriage, how she came through it and the tools she used to overcome it. She is a published author and currently has two books under her belt.
Salaams and welcome to another episode of Not Another Mum Pod! I’m Nafisa and this is Tasneem and today we’re going to talk about the issue of mental health – a topic that is considered taboo in our community, where many of us don’t really understand it well and some even explain it away with the excuse of jinns.
The impact and experience of the past 18 months has been different for everyone, as have our reactions, but there’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time for us all. That’s why it’s so important to look after our mental health and wellbeing; now more than ever. New research from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) part of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) shows that the past 18 months negatively impacted the mental wellbeing of half of all adults in England (49%). And of those who struggled, a massive one in three (34%) did not know what to do to improve their mental wellbeing.
Nafisa: Just to give a few stats here, With special reference to the ethnic minority groups, 52% listed worries and anxiety as the top challenge they faced, followed by stress, low mood and depression. The main reasons people gave for COVID-19 having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing include loneliness and isolation, worrying about family’s health and safety and worrying about COVID-19. 37% were unsure about how to improve their mental wellbeing and 55% said they did know what to do. That’s quite stark that is!
Today, Harmeet Bharya will talk to us about how the pandemic affected her mental health. Dealing with grief, a traumatic birth and not to mention a miscarriage, all contributed to Harmeet becoming suicidal. We will be asking Harmeet about the challenges she has faced, the impact that has had on her life and the tools she used to come through the darkness with such positivity.
Nafisa: We will also be discussing the NHS-approved Mind Plan found on the website: Every Mind Matters. By answering five simple questions, adults will get a personalised mental health action plan, giving practical tips to help them deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control. Both Tasneem and I have had a go at this and we’ll be sharing the results at the end.Search Every Mind Matters to see what works for you.
We unpack some of the challenges Harmeet has faced, referring to some key life events at the beginning of the conversation. Some of the other questions covered are:
- How was your mental health throughout the pandemic?
- How did you cope with it?
- What were the tools and techniques that helped you to overcome or manage how you were feeling going forward?
- Did you know where you could get help?
- How did the community around you react? Any support?
- Why do you think it is such an epidemic in our community? Why do we shy away from this and refuse to recognise that it needs medical attention the same way our physical health needs attention?
- What advice would you give to members of the community that are experiencing mental health challenges?
So to give a bit of context, On the 5th October, in the run up to World Mental Health Day, Better Health, an NHS led initiative called Every Mind Matters launched a campaign to support the nation’s mental wellbeing. It’s aimed at adults, but weighted towards those who’re most at risk of mental health problems and vulnerable groups. The campaign heroes the little things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and how these can make a massive difference – which in turn will help us to lead happier, healthier lives and cope with life’s challenges. So I tried the Mind Plan quiz on the Every Mind Matters website, and after answering the 5 quick questions, some of the tips were that I need to relax my muscles and mind, try meditation where you stop devices an hour before bed, move more every day and so on. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised and completely agreed with it. Also under each tip there is more info you can listen to or watch so you understand it better.
I know for myself, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or when I get a dash of imposter syndrome, I just have to take a deep breath and step away from the situation. Exercise really helps me, such as going for a walk. By the time I come home, I feel so energised and refreshed. What about you Tas, Have you tried the Mind Plan, what were you advised and does it tally with what you do when you’re stressed?
Okay, I completed the Mind Plan questionnaire and I liked that it was quick and simple and that it gave practical tips on the things I could do to help centre myself again. It also lets you swap tips if something isn’t up your street.
What I found interesting was that I already do some of the tips they gave – like the exercise and mindfulness – and they offered others that I would try out – so I guess the questionnaire works in figuring out what an individual needs! The advice has been given by clinical experts after all!
I don’t think I get anxiety really, but I do get stressed out with life sometimes – and the questionnaire distinguished between the two, which was good.
Like you Nafisa.. I also like going for a walk, or to the gym, to help clear my head. If that isn’t possible – then I call my sister, or a close friend, so talk through my problem and get some clarity or a different perspective. Or if I’m really stressed out, I’ll make wudu and pray – that ALWAYS works for me.
We’ll be doing future pods where we hear from our sisters who have gone through various mental health challenges. I’ll leave you with the reminder that Islam teaches us to have spiritual resilience and offers a spiritual sanctuary for Muslims to live a peaceful life by using their inner strengths and having a strong relationship with the Allah, being optimistic and purifying their feelings. Islam acknowledges the importance of spiritual status as an interior power that can be exercised to have a calm mind, healthy consciousness, and positive thoughts. By speaking about it more openly, iA we can make it easier for others to reach out and seek help.
Remember ladies, mental health isn’t just a female or a male issue. It affects every one of us. Half our problem is admitting it and then knowing what to do about it. The Every Mind Matters website is being continuously updated to support on-going mental health and wellbeing needs, and it also includes a COVID-19 hub which offers tips and support on how to deal with change, cope with money worries and job uncertainty.
Just to add here, the website also provides practical tips on dealing with stress and anxiety, boosting your mood, sleeping better, and what you can do to help others. You just need to search Every Mind Matters to see what works for you. We will drop all the links into our show notes as well.
Thanks for listening all, please do share this episode far and wide and let’s help break the taboo by raising awareness and getting people to talk about it and then signpost by letting them know where they can get some basic help.
Some useful links:
Islamic organisations and resources that can help: