Mental health through the lens of OMG UNITE
Join us on World Mental Health Day 2021 as we discuss this year’s theme: Mental Health in an Unequal World with the team at OMG UNITE.
Mental Health is an extremely important topic to the OMG UNITE team. As a diversity-driven agency, we are aware of how the discussion around mental health can exclude the voices of those from diverse communities.
At OMG UNITE, our team is shaped by a mixture of cultures, heritage, genders and sexualities. We are third culture kids, navigating multiple identities. For some of us, and in marginalized communities, mental health is a taboo subject. The stigma it carries in some cultural groups can create a major barrier in receiving the right diagnosis and care.
Today marks #WorldMentalHealthDay. This year’s theme is Mental Health in an Unequal World. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, however the prevalence of different mental health problems varies by ethnicity.
Did you know that women from a South Asian background experience the highest rates of any common mental disorder, or that Black men are “three times more likely than White men to screen positive for PTSD”?
The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns only exacerbated feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. ‘Emerging evidence highlights the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown on mental health and inequalities.’
The charity Mind, conducted a survey of over 14,000 adults revealing that existing inequalities in housing, employment, finances and other issues, meant that there had been a greater impact on the mental health of people from different Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups than white people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Furthermore, although being LGBTIQ+ does not cause mental health problems, the LGBTIQ+ community is at risk of mental health problems due to the difficult experiences of coming out, experiencing stigma and discrimination, resulting in self-isolation and mental health issues arising.
Through our research we found that Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) LGBTQ+ people may also face additional barriers when accessing support, with over 62% of people more likely to experience depression and 51% experiencing discrimination due to their ethnicity.
OMG UNITE talk Mental Health
Going forward, we are committed to creating a deeper understanding of how intersections can contribute to mental health issues through our articles, blogs and social posts.
For now, read our team’s contributions on their personal mental health anecdotes, experiences, and tips to help you get through the day.
My advice is to get rid of toxic people in your life – if they make it worse and have nothing positive to bring, it’s probably best to count them out for your own well-being. Exercise is also extremely important for your mental health.
I am not a sport freak at all, but exercise does not mean running a marathon or doing crazy athletic things, it can just mean going for a lovely walk or bike ride around the city. I installed an app on my phone forcing me to do a minimum of 4,000 steps a day – roughly 30 minutes. This psychologically forces you to get out of your house at least once a day.
My other therapy, and as cliché as this may sound, is music, and especially in my case music from my favourite artist – Mariah Carey. Her voice and music are so soothing and appeasing, and she always has lyrics to make you feel like everything is going to be okay and that, whatever you are going through, you are not alone and that these feelings and emotions are valid. Her songs for ‘Hero’, or ‘Anytime You Need A Friend’ have provided with me great relief and comfort.
More generally, I think it’s important to sometimes forget about the dark world news that brings your mood down and try to focus on yourself and what makes you happy for your own personal well-being. This in turn will reflect on your interactions with other people and what comes your way in life. It’s all about having the right mindset but for sure it is not always easy to find this right mindset.
We also must learn to not be afraid to talk about it and express our feelings. Keeping everything inside will just create a ticking time bomb… And yes sentences such as “things will get better” can sound dumb when you are feeling at your lowest, but you have to always believe that it is if you are to get out of this and thrive and succeed.
Shout out to all of the people battling illnesses we know nothing about, to all of the people who are suffering in silence, too afraid and too ashamed to speak up. Over the years I’ve had many internal battles with my own mental health. For a long time I kept it to myself but I realised the only way through it is to open up and seek help.
Mental Health problems manifest in many different shapes and forms. Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there. Mental Health is so important. I cannot stress this enough.
For all of the people that have never experienced mental health issues or those that do not understand how to deal with people who are experiencing mental health problems, my advice to you is just listen and observe and try and understand. Don’t judge. Sometimes just being there and being silent is what’s needed and can have such a positive impact.
What binds us together is stronger than what separates us and our differences are fewer than our similarities. We can all learn from others’ experiences and stories, and oftentimes just taking an interest in someone else’s story can make them feel like they belong, make them feel like they have a place in this world and their story and experience matters.
Look beyond the exterior. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
It’s always difficult opening up about mental health when the people you think you can trust about your deepest vulnerabilities don’t ‘believe’ in it, or don’t give it the acknowledgment it deserves, or think a regular trip to your place of worship every week will somehow alter the chemical imbalances within your brain.
I’ve had a lonely ride with mental health as a result of this. Somehow, we are shamed and made to feel embarrassed or lacking. And God forbid anyone in the neighbourhood finds out. It’s a toxic irony that seeps deep into South Asian communities, where parents or close ones are often more worried about what people will think than your actual health and wellbeing. Seeing how others in my family were treated or talked about once people knew they dealt with mental health problems cemented my decision to never share my own problems growing up.
But something that has helped me and hopefully can help anyone reading this, is the quote: “you grow through what you go through” and I preach it as if I wrote it myself because I really wish I did (but Tyrese Gibson is the true mastermind behind it).
Going through my experiences has helped me grow into the person I needed when I was younger. And now I can be that person for my little sister. I talk about mental health with her openly and ensure she knows that she never has to go through anything alone.
My experience showed me that pain is useful – it reminds us that we’re alive and have the ability to feel. It made me think how there’s gain in loss – through it we are able to learn how to heal.
You and me, we’re art. We just didn’t know we were also the artists. And as long as we’re around, we can carve and sculpt our futures the best way we know how. It may get messy along the way, but soon enough, you’ll take a step back and see the refinements in your hard work. Just remember, you have to keep going, to keep growing.
Find the time to do nothing and I mean literally nothing except listening to oneself. Focus on all the positives achieved in the past week. Open up to your loved ones – acknowledging our challenges is the first and most important step to overcoming them.
Feel-good songs to listen to on World Mental Health Day
Music is a healer, there’s no doubt about it. This World Mental Health Day, we asked the team what tracks are getting them out of bed, lifting their moods and generally making them feel good when the world gets a bit heavy.
Here are our top 10 songs you can listen to this World Mental Health Day and any other day you may need a little acoustic boost:
- Vibranium – Chunkz, Neji
- Energy – Pa Salieu, Mahalia
- Following the Sun – SUPER-Hi, Neeka
- Winners – Smoko Ono, Yxng Bane, Chance the Rapper, Joey Purp
- I Smile – Kirk Franklin
- Sunday Best – Surfaces
- Everything Nice – Popcaan
- Know Your Worth – Khalid, Disclosure
- A-O-K – Tai Verdes
- Everything is Everything – Ms. Lauryn Hill
Listen to the full playlist here.