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Mind over Matter: Stimulating the Discussion on Mental Health in Manchester’s South Asian Community

Updated: Sep 28

Mental health in the South Asian community is an issue that frequently goes undiscussed; often, members of the community feel as though the topic is a taboo subject which is overlooked and disregarded. We have been commissioned by Alchemy Arts to create a podcast series that is attempting to stimulate discussion and dialogue on this matter in order to bring it into mainstream discourse. Alchemy Arts is a progressive and passionate performing arts production company that seeks to provide representation to seldom heard voices from communities that often go unheard in Britain. Adil Mohammed Javed, the CEO of Alchemy Arts, is keen to give people of all backgrounds a platform in order to challenge stigmas around challenging topics.

The Blue Shoes team meeting Afzal Khan MP

We have had the pleasure of speaking to some impassioned and eminent figures from the South Asian community in the North of England, and for such a personal and often delicate subject, the contributors have opened up and spoken about their experiences and viewpoints with raw honesty. We have attempted to generate a multi-generational and diverse discussion on the topic in order to represent a wide selection of differing viewpoints. We have spoken to healthcare professionals, professors, students, mothers, fathers, members of the South Asian LGBT community, and an MP.

Shadow Immigration Minister Afzal Khan discussing mental health in the South Asian Community

We hope that the podcast series will offer listeners an opportunity to learn more about the support bases that are available for South Asians that are suffering with mental health issues in order to open up a dialogue for those who have been unable to come forward. Make sure to listen to the podcasts which can be found below.

Mental Health and Stigma in BAME Communities (in collaboration with Alchemy Arts)

Overview

Mental health is an issue that often goes undiscussed in our society, particularly in the South Asian community. This podcast series, produced in collaboration with BlueSci and Alchemy Arts, seeks to address this by speaking to members of the South Asian Community from a variety of different backgrounds in order to promote a wide discourse on mental health. Alchemy Arts is a progressive and passionate performing arts production company that seeks to provide representation to seldom heard voices from communities that often go unheard in Britain. By stimulating discussion on the topic of mental health, we hope that it will start a conversation in the community that will help to break the stigmas surrounding mental health conditions. We hope that the podcast series will offer listeners an opportunity to learn more about the support bases that are available for South Asians that are suffering with mental health issues in order to open up a dialogue for those who have felt unable to come forward.

Afzal Khan MP

Afzal Khan is the Labour Member of Parliament for Gorton in Manchester. He is the current Shadow Immigration Minister and is a former MEP for the North West of England and former Mayor of Manchester. Afzal came to the UK from Pakistan as a young boy and has chosen to speak about mental health in order to fulfil his role as a representative for his constituents and to raise awareness about this issue in the British South Asian community.

Hadar Zaman

In this podcast, we spoke to Hadar Zaman, chief pharmacist for a mental health service provider called Alternative Futures, located in the North West of England. He is also a senior lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at the University of Bradford, and wanted to share his knowledge on the topic of mental health.

Anonymous Pakistani Woman

In this podcast, our contributor wanted to remain anonymous. She is a Pakistani woman living in Manchester, and mother of 4 children, one of which has learning disabilities and suffers from mental health issues. As someone who has to care for somebody dealing with these issues, she has a unique perspective on the support that is available, and what improvements need to be made. We had a voice actor read out her responses.

Rezwana Akhtar

Rezwana Akhtar is a pharmacy student and second generation Bangladeshi who suffered with depression during 2012 and 2013. She has chosen to speak out about her experiences with mental health issues, in order to generate discussion on the topic, and to advocate the need for more specialised platforms for South Asians to have their voices heard without feeling stigmatised.

Adil Mohammed Javed

Adil Mohammed Javed is an actor, scriptwriter, researcher and workshop facilitator who has appeared in films such as Bradford Riots, Britz and Four Lions. Adil has worked as a workshop facilitator both nationally and internationally working on issues such as identity, community cohesion & inter faith dialogue. It was his travels around Europe and his own journey of transformation that inspired the birth of Alchemy Arts. Alchemy Arts is a media and arts organisation that specialises in using drama and other art forms to create space for seldom heard voices.

Anonymous Pakistani Student

For this podcast, we spoke to a pharmacy student who is currently studying at the University of Bradford. She has openly discussed her family’s struggle with mental health, the stigmas that are involved, generational divides in how mental health issues are viewed in the community, and family support structures. She has decided to remain anonymous.

Shahid Latif

Shahid Latif is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. His varied roles include school governor and weekly radio anchor for a medical programme on LRB Digital radio from June 2017 until June 2018, occasionally hosting a medical programme on Ramadan Radio on Leicester occasionally. Shahid has worked for the BME groups for more than 10 years and completed qualitative research projects for the minority groups particularly within the Muslim population where he worked on the overlap between cultural beliefs and mental health problems, also publishing papers in this area and presenting at conferences and hosting free workshops within communities. In addition he’s been a regular feature on multi-ethnic television channels and radio stations including BBC Asian Network on their panel of experts providing awareness and understanding of mental health conditions of the minority groups.

Hussain Chaudhry

In this podcast, we spoke to Hussain, an activist for South Asian and minority representation in the LGBT community. He describes himself as being part of a minority within a minority, and he has also struggled with mental health issues himself. He wanted to share his story, his concerns with how mental health is treated within the South Asian community he grew up in, and how he is hoping to be part of the change by speaking out and adding transparency to the issues.

For more about our podcast series, visit the Alchemy Arts website.

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