This guide has been created as part of the Rethink Mental Illness Step Up Universities project, which is funded by the City Bridge Trust. The scheme uses students’ real-life experiences to try and foster a positive mental health community and help other students with their mental health. This guide has been created by Ashraf, Gabriella, Kay-Lee and Pamela with illustrations from Dylan Wilson. We would also like to say thanks to UCL, Students’ Union UCL, UWL, UWL Students’ Union, The University of Middlesex, MDX Students’ Union, University Arts London Students’ Union, SOAS University, SOAS Students’ Union and London Metropolitan University. Additionally, we would like to thank all of our student mentors for their input into the creation of this guide.
May Gabriel, Project Manager Step Up Universities Rianna Fleming, Project Officer Step Up Universities
Introduction to Content Creators
My name is Ashraf and I am a student at Middlesex University, currently doing my Master’s in Creative Technology. I am originally from Sudan and although I am an international student, I have been living in London for quite a while now. I have been part of this mental health and wellbeing project organised by Rethink Mental Health throughout this year, however this is my first experience of contributing to the vine. I feel this is a very important topic, especially being a Black man, I feel we are very underrepresented when it comes to discussions aroundmental health for many reasons. Especially in light of the global focus on the Black Lives Matter Movement, I felt it was important to use this opportunity and platform to use my voice and share my experience.
Hi, my name is Gabriella and I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Applied Psychology at Middlesex University, London. I joined Step Up not too long after starting university and it’s been a place where I’ve met such compassionate and empathetic people and was also able to give back to the community. In India, where I come from, mental wellbeing is a very rare topic of discussion, if at all. I believe that the root of many of the bigger problems faced lie in mental health. There is a gradual shift in mindsets now that the voices of young adults have begun speaking up for mental health. I, myself, have had to relearn a lot of things that were imbibed in my culture and understand that it is okay to not be okay. The topic of this particular zine is especially striking in the present global scenario. Often things seem to be moving one step forward two steps back, but I think that it is highly reassuring that there is a step forward. It’s even more reassuring that our generation has taken it upon themselves to educate and advocate for the things we care about. Having said that, I hope that our experiences in this zine resonates with you and gives you much needed hope during this time.
Hey! My name is Kay-Lee, I am an MSc student at UCL. The topic of this zine is particularly important to me as it is a thread that has run throughout the experiences of myself, my family and community for generations. I have always advocated the complexities and impact of race and mental health within BIPOC communities. The current movement has amplified this as well as shedding light on overarching structural and societal issues that we face. Whilst everyone’s experiences will be different, this zine has allowed us to share some of our own personal experiences, which may resonate with some of you and I hope can offer recognition and representation of some of the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. The past few months have been particularly hard for myself, but connecting with others has been a great support. I hope this zine is helpful and you are all taking care of yourself during this time.
Hey guys! My name is Pamela and I am a BA student at SOAS. I have never been confident enough to voice out my own opinions and views about social issues that BIPOC face. I felt like it wasn’t my place because, while I knew the world was unfair to other people, I never had a first-hand experience to talk about. However, through this zine I was able to contribute my thoughts and feelings about some injustices the world faces today. When presented with the phrase “people of colour” you don’t generally think of Asians, and it seems that we are often under- represented or forgotten when it comes to conversations about it. I am aware of the claims that Asians are not seen as POC because we “do not face the same level of racism” as other POC, or we “don’t have struggles”. At the end of the day, all racism is wrong, but this further highlights the need for more representation. By sharing some experiences, I hope that some can relate, and also learn about challenges the Asian community face. While this zine isn’t a guide to how you can navigate the world better, I hope that you can find some comfort in our writing and maybe also feel inspired and find the confidence to speak out if you have not yet found the opportunity to do so.
In recent times, we have seen issues of racism flood our social media and media outlets. Exposure of police brutality across the US and UK have sparked several conversations about how racism infiltrates many aspects of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour’s (BIPOC) lives: from racial health disparities, to attainment gaps within education and more. An important topic of discussion that has been brought to light is the wellbeing of BIPOC communities and how race and mental health are so intricately woven. In this zine, we explore why many BIPOC students feel like imposters whilst at university, the race and gender intersection, how different forms of microaggression can impact mental wellbeing and what effective ally support looks like. We hope that the content in this zine resonates with you and provides you with some practical takeaways to help you navigate the world as a Black, Indigenous, and Person of Colour and manage your wellbeing, or provide you with insight and understanding to better support your BIPOC peers.
Terminology used throughout: BIPOC – an acronym to describe the ethnic minority collective who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour which was first coined in the US to encompass the ethnic groups that face racial oppression. An alternate term popularly used is BAME – Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic.
BIPOC Mental Health
There are a wide range of inequalities impacting the mental health and wellbeing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. These communities are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems due to issues of racism and socioeconomic factors and are disproportionately affected by the social issues that stem from having mental health problems and mental illness. From accessing mental health support, assessments and treatment, inequality and discrimination are rife for BIPOC communities throughout their mental health journeys. Within BIPOC communities, stigma and cultural views surrounding mental health problems and mental illness can create barriers to seeking mental health support. This can be worsened by poor relationships between the communities and their healthcare providers. The stereotyping and racial bias held by healthcare professionals, along with a lack of cultural awareness and understanding of how racism can impact BIPOC communities, can create more barriers to BIPOC communities receiving the support that they need. This is especially heightened as there are very low numbers of BIPOC therapists and counsellors across the field.
BIPOC mental health outcomes: It is important to note that within the wider umbrella terms – BIPOC or BAME – each ethnic group deals with their own unique set of challenges and barriers when it comes to managing their mental wellbeing. The terms are used to identify ethnic minority groups that are impacted by white supremacy however it is important to remember that there is no generalised experience. Even within ethnic groups, everyone’s personal experience with race(ism) and managing their wellbeing is different and can be influenced by many factors such as age, gender, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, economic and geographic factors, etc. • Being exposed to racism – from microaggresion to overt acts of violence – has a negative impact on BIPOC mental health and increases the likelihood of developing mental illnesses such as depression and psychosis. • BIPOC communities are more likely to be detained in secure institutions and more likely to be offered medication as treatment rather than talking therapies. • Whilst the White Caucasian population experience the highest rates for suicidal thoughts, suicide rates are higher among young men of Black African, Black Caribbean origin, and among middle aged Black African, Black Caribbean and South Asian women than among their White British counterparts. • African Caribbean people are 3-5 times more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia, more than any other group. • Risk of psychosis in Black Caribbean groups is estimated to be nearly seven times higher than in the White population. • Within the South Asian community, it is indicated that South Asian women are an at-risk group for suicide. • Refugees and asylum seekers may experience exclusion, marginalisation and inequalities of access to services and are more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population, including higher rates of depression, PTSD and other anxiety disorders. • Chinese people are underrepresented in mental health services, which could be indicative of the estrangement to healthcare services rather than being less impacted by mental health issues. References: 1. Bignall et al., 2020. Racial Disparities in Mental Health. Race Equality Foundation 2. Mental Health Foundation, 2019. BAME and Mental Health
Making time for joy and rest as an act of resistance
Following the death of George Floyd and the increased awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, many of us have stepped into the role of activist. I myself joined many initiatives, protested, wrote letters to my university, set up groups, and have had to share my experience as well as provide education for tutors and my peers. Whilst many of us were doing this before, the urgency of the movement has heightened this responsibility, which we did not necessarily ask for. With the willingness of others finally being open to listen to the experiences of the Black community, I have seen that many of us have been dedicating most of our time to this recently. Whilst I believe it’s my life’s work and important work, I have found it emotionally exhausting at times. As students, you come to university to learn, increase skills, access new opportunities and have the general student experience. But now you may find yourself having to balance your studies whilst advocating for change within your university and organising within your own community which can be mentally taxing, as well as maintaining your emotional wellbeing and processing what has been happening. At times I’ve felt unmotivated and guilty, struggling to see the purpose in studying and social activities when it feels as though there are more important things happening right now. I came across ‘The Nap Ministry’ (see page – 26) on social media which highlighted that ‘rest and joy are forms of resistance’. This concept was so simple, yet something that really stuck with me… They highlight the importance of making time for joy and rest as an act of self-love that is counter-narrative to an oppressive system. Giving us the opportunity to heal and recuperate, which we often may feel guilty for doing.
This simple concept allowed me to take a step back from the pressure and I used the idea to help myself develop a toolkit to maintain my emotional wellbeing, these were some things that helped me: Offline time – giving myself time to process what I’m thinking and feeling. For me, the content on social media was not just information but directly linked to real lived experience that is highly triggering. Limiting how much information I take in and allowing myself to have a break from digesting information. 1. 2. Saying no – in the midst of the movement many may be asking for your experiences or input for changes, you may feel called to be involved in many meetings, initiatives or groups however, it’s important to recognise when that may be too much for you, or if you have too much on your plate with university or if you simply don’t feel up to it right now. It’s ok to say no and to have a break. Finding your tribe – having a sense of belonging, seeking those within my community who can empathise and understand my experience without having to necessarily explain or justify. 3. 4. Reconnecting with hobbies - doing things that bring me joy and is just for me, without any pressure. I enjoy working out, yoga, meditating, socialising with friends and remind myself that I am allowed to make time for happiness. Take a break! – whether that is a nap, a good night’s sleep, a day off from work, it’s important to listen to your body and recognise when it needs a rest without feeling guilty for it. 5. If you have found this useful you could use this tool to create your own toolbox and check out the Stress Bucket below that helps you make time for joy and rest.
Stress Bucket You can think about your mental wellbeing as a bucket. Lots of different stressors in our day-to-day lives contribute towards our buckets filling up. For example, managing university work and deadlines, making time for your relationships, etc. At a time like this, you may find additional stressors such as organising and activism, or navigating social media are adding to your stress bucket. It is important to ensure that your bucket doesn’t overflow as this can be detrimental to your wellbeing. So, we need to make sure we have de-stressors that we can call upon to help empty some of the water from our buckets or create more of a balance in our lives. This could be spending some time alone to recharge, meeting up with your friends for coffee, or taking time away from social media - everyone is different. Check out the stress bucket below and give it a go, yourself!
Time for Change: A Black Sudanese Man’s Mental Health Journey
These last fewmonths have been a very difficult time for everyone. The coronavirus and the enforced lockdown has had a major impact on everyone throughout the world. The everyday routine I have been used to has been turned upside down. Things that I have taken for granted like going to work or class have been taken away, this has had a big impact on my mental health. The feeling of being trapped in one place has been a scary one, as well as the extra free time I seem to have. But it has also given me an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate where I am in my life and where I want to be. Working on myself to change things that I need to change, to develop and grow as an individual. Without my regular daily routine, what really helped me was setting objectives for the next day and then at the end of every day evaluating whether I met those objectives, reflecting on the objectives themselves, why I chose them, and why I did or didn’t meet them. Not only did this help me manage my time, but it kept me occupied and has awakened self-discipline. Also, the impact of the different movements that have occurred during the lockdown, have helped raise my awareness and understanding and also somewhat a feeling of guilt. I have learnt that there are so many things in life that happen, and still do happen, this lockdown has given me the time to understand and read up on those matters, things that I would otherwise have overlooked. Another useful tool I have found in terms of helping me to switch off has been to do a “speech fast” for several hours every day in which I don’t speak or connect to anyone for a set period of time, and instead use that time to collect my thoughts, think things through and disconnect.
Top tips on navigating this time: 1. Take your time to understand your struggles and give yourself time to establish your growth. 2. Spend time with yourself, cook what you love, take walks, do something you love. Self-care starts with you. 3. Remember to go back to the drawing board whenever you feel it is necessary, reflect, scribble and re-jot, the time is yours, take as much as you need out of the hustle.
I’m an Asian girl in a Covid world
Life in plastic (masks), is not fantastic. Before Covid and as an Asian, I felt fairly safe going out in the streets, especially in a city as diverse as London. I felt privileged in a way that I wouldn’t be stopped in the street or called out for my ethnicity. With the first big outbreak of the virus happening in China, there were people who consequently held some prejudice against Chinese and Asian people. It was around mid-March when I found the article about the student who was attacked on Oxford Street. My university is not too far away fromwhere it happened so my thoughts gradually went into overdrive. Like, what if that person was me? What if I find myself in the wrong place, at the wrong time? What if they targeted my campus? As a woman, I knew to always be careful when I went out, but I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to pay even more attention to my surroundings since everyone was staring at me in the street whilst keeping their distance, making me feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Even a simple activity like going out for a walk made me more anxious than it should. What added more to this anxiety was seeing people cover their faces whilst walking past me, only to immediately uncover their faces when I had passed them. Maybe it was just me being paranoid, but it certainly wasn’t a nice feeling seeing people react that way. The virus was now an excuse to let people outwardly express their prejudices and this racism against Asians was thriving around the world. It was upsetting to see all those videos of Asians being harassed in the street and it also didn’t help that Trump promoted more racism in the US by repeatedly calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus”. Never in my life have I felt like an outsider and as opposed to before, when my anxieties mostly surrounded university, I felt quite anxious about going out and kinda mentally prepared myself for if anything were to happen, every time I left my house.
It can be easy to dismiss microagression like people covering their faces at the sight of me. You could just roll your eyes and think “whatever”, but you can’t help but feel like you’ve been backed into a corner by an action so small. While it might not be on the same scale, I can now empathise with other BIPOC when they experience microaggressions too and it is not something I want future generations to go through. It is so important that we don’t normalise this kind of behaviour in order to not let it thrive, which is why something as small as a passing comment by a close friend or family member is always worth calling out. Top tip: Journaling When you feel frustrated by situations like this or they keep lingering in your mind, journaling can be a good way to try to forget about them. If you still struggle to talk to a trusted person about your mental health, gathering your thoughts and feelings and reflecting on why you felt like that can be a useful outlet.
It is a lot easier to pin down obvious acts of racism such as slurs, threats or violence but microaggressions are often a more common, subtle and insidious type of racist stereotyping that can be harder to spot and call out. Racial microaggressions are usually brief and daily common verbal or behavioural degrading acts that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages towards people of colour. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional and so in order to notice them, it requires educating yourself about the experiences of people of colour and the significance behind the comments or behaviour.
Types of microaggression
1. Microassault – a more explicit and purposeful attack on a person of colour through acts such as name-calling, using outdated terms to identify a person of colour, or actively leaving a person of colour out of a situation. 2. Microinvalidation – comments that invalidate the lived experiences and feelings of a person of colour. One of the most common being ‘I don’t see race’. 3. Microinsult – subtle comments that hide an insulting message behind it. Often times the perpetrator doesn’t know that they are insulting or being insensitive.
Account 1: “Microaggressions have been part of my daily life, from often being followed around a shop by staff to ‘keep an eye on you’, to someone running up to grab their bike as I stood up to get off the train out of fear I may steal it. From being picked out of a large group of white people to be stopped and checked by security, the police and at the airport, to general inappropriate racial comments being made which are then swiftly followed by ‘but I’m not racist… I have Black friends’. What’s difficult about microaggressions are that you can’t always prove intentions and unless you are a person of colour who has experienced it, they may seem so subtle and harmless but they ultimately leave you feeling uncomfortable, degraded and remind you that people see you as threatening or lesser because of the colour of your skin.” Account 2: “This happened 2 years ago on my first day at a part-time job and I have never forgotten. I was partnered with someone who was supposed to teach me how everything worked and when I spoke, she first responded with “Oh, I thought you were foreign”. Confused, I asked her what she meant by that because I’ve never had someone say that to me before. She explained that she thought I would have an accent, and I could not think of any reason as to why she would think my English would be accented. I was assuming that she thought I was an international student, so I replied saying that I grew up in London which caused her to smile awkwardly at me. Let’s just say that was the last time we had a ‘proper’ conversation.” . Addressing microaggression - what can you do? 1. Call it out: Sometimes the perpetrator is unaware of how offensive their comments or actions were, so addressing it is important. 2. Educate: The person may claim that it was not their intention to cause offense or harm, so educating them with a focus on the impact of the comment on the person of colour, rather than on their intention is impactful. 3. Disarm: By acknowledging how the comment, remark or behaviour was offensive, you are modelling positive and inclusive behaviour that may also educate others around you as to why it is inappropriate.
See Resource Page for more information on microaggresion.
When reality invades your safe haven
If you’re the type of person who has spent every waking second on social media, then you would probably remember seeing everyone post about how to protect yourself against the coronavirus, domestic violence, Covid-related attacks on Asians, Black Lives Matter and many other social issues. While the collective effort people made to spread awareness was amazing, some people, including myself, felt a bit overwhelmed with the activism on social media. Not to say that the promotion of resources and information was annoying or that I am ignorant, but it goes without saying that during lockdown, social media was a place for a lot of us to relax and distract ourselves from the stress of our daily lives or work whilst we were all at home. We tagged other people in challenges, shared food creations of the day and posted throwback pictures from your last holiday, wishing you were there right now. In a matter of days, social media became a place to remind people to wash their hands and wear masks, to repost crucial emergency contacts and to sign petitions or check out a fundraiser, amongst other things. While social media is an amazing way to spread the word quickly and globally, seeing content like that only brought me back to reality and what is really going on in the world. As a final year student, I was already stressed about final exams and assignment deadlines and how the virus would now affect it but also seeing such content made me feel very overwhelmed - like my heart and mind just felt heavy seeing all the unfortunate events unravelling in the world around us. I felt like it was wrong and wasn’t fun to browse Instagram for something funny or aesthetic in a situation like that. Of course, social media wasn’t my only way to destress and distract myself; I was also calling friends and going on my socially-distanced walks and completing home workouts. As a result, I decided to spend my free time doing things off social media. At some point during lockdown, I started craving Korean food, so I tried to recreate dishes at home, cooking them again and again until they suited my taste. I also found cleaning to be quite therapeutic but only when I wasn’t being told to do any. It then became pretty normal for me to not reach for my phone every time I wanted to take a break or was just relaxing and eventually realised that I didn’t need to be fed with memes or funny content to be entertained. There is a whole world outside of my phone and laptop after all.
That being said, after the time I have spent on social media here are a few people whose content I do enjoy and like:
IG @Q2HAN for some fashion, lifestyle and DIY content
• IG @starrie.night for some cool roller-skating content from Spooky
IG @completelycathy for some amazing illustrations
• IG @the_lazyfoodie for some aesthetic food shots and finding new cafes to visit in London
• IG @noorandzee for some photography and fashion content
IG @puffpuffministry for some Nigerian puff puff content
• A blog talking about ‘anything and everything’ by Adeshewa Victoria Ajayi
Mindful Breathing Exercise Navigating through life as a person of colour can be very challenging and overwhelming, especially facing overt acts of racism, microaggression and battling things such as imposter syndrome on a day-to-day basis. These types of experiences can leave you feeling anxious and you may start to experience a physical response in your body as a result of this level of stress. If you find yourself in a situation where you are feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed and you are starting to experience fast shallow breathing, increased heart rate and shaking, etc. it can be very effective to engage in mindful breathing. Following this simple pursed lip breathing exercise below will quickly help to regulate and slow down your breathing back to normal before you get to the point of hyperventilating. Any physical symptoms you are experiencing will start to fade away and you will start to feel more in control again.
Imposter Syndrome and Systemic Racism
It is reported that women of colour, especially Black women, are most likely to experience imposter syndrome due to systemic oppression. Coming to university to do a MSc was a culture shock for me. In my first term, I quickly noticed that I was quite different to everyone else, more obviously, I was the only Black person on my course, and I had not come across one Black clinician or professor during teaching. More subtly, through conversations and experiences, the lifestyles and cultural differences were quite clear. I also began to notice that the teaching, syllabus and research on mental health was not representative of my community, despite them being statistically the most affected. I struggled to understand the gap between the institution and the real lived experiences of BIPOC people and I did not realise how much this affected me until I began to feel quite detached from my course, peers and tutors and started to question what my place was at this institution or in the discipline of psychology in general as nothing here appeared to reflect people like me. When I discussed this with my tutor, there was a lack of understanding which made it more difficult and ultimately impacted on my learning experience and motivation on my course. Later down the line, following the BLM movement, I was able to reach out to the BME officer and connect with other Black students from other courses in my university and I was linked with a Black clinician for support, which helped me feel more of a sense of belonging and provided a safe space to feel listened to and work through these experiences, although they may not necessarily change immediately. One thing I have learnt through this experience is that there is so much importance in representation and community in the spaces that you learn and work in as well as recognising the value of your individuality, culture and the experiences that you bring. Although it is very difficult at times, we deserve to be there and we have to be, so that changes can be made and eventually the institutions we take space in will become more diverse and representative.
How to be an ally to BIPOC peers
1. Educate yourself - Take it upon yourself to research and educate yourself – do not rely on or expect your BIPOC friends to have to share their often traumatic experiences to educate you. There are lots of resources circulating online that can help with this. 2. Amplify BIPOC voices – use your privilege and platforms to raise their voices and help those who are oppressed or disadvantaged. 3. Be open to listen, own your mistakes and de-centre yourself from the conversation - having to address implicit biases, racism and unlearn can be uncomfortable, at times you may be challenged and get it wrong, that’s ok, what’s important is to be willing to learn and actively change and support BIPOC. 4. Speak up - witnessing discrimination sucks. If a family or friend says something negative about BIPOC peers, don’t be afraid to correct them or call them out for it. Part of the journey to fixing this problem is to have those uncomfortable conversations. 5. Do some self-reflection - we all have learned biases whether we like it or not. By doing some self-reflection, you can recognise your internalised biases and challenge why you think this way. 6. It is not a competition to who had the most oppressive experience - there is no need to compare your experience as “just as bad” or “worse” than another person. Any oppressive experience is bad. 7. Understand that no one shares the same experience - BAME and BIPOC are umbrella terms that group ethnic minority communities together, but within the wider group are vast and very different experiences. Even within races, lived experiences are different and cannot be generalised.
Who am I? Imposter Syndrome and Cultural Expectations 8. Try to keep up the momentum for change - Organising for change is a tiring and draining experience so it is important to ensure you are looking after your wellbeing. Think about the different ways you can support - not all are as highly charged and intense as protesting but can still make a difference. For example, engaging in Black Pound Day (spending in a Black-owned shop or restaurant on the first Saturday of each month) or getting involved in your university’s decolonising groups.
Cultural expectations and the Indian education system Coming from a middle - class Indian family, it is very common for parents to have extreme expectations on their young children to perform well, academically. The system does not take into consideration the students who were gifted in subjects apart from Maths and Science and the teachers are not instructed to work on alternate skills. Parents would often share their children’s grades as a reflection of themselves and teachers would make it very clear that the child’s worth was very closely linked to how well they performed. I don’t know if it is right to blame the adults because they, too, are a product of this flawed system and they, too, have had to handle pressure. Straying away from societal norms in education can have an adverse effect on one’s sense of self and identity. The feeling of being lost in a sea of professionals and second guessing every step of the way can make a person feel like they don’t belong. Taking on a Master’s degree in London When I moved from India to London to do my Master’s, it was a giant leap of faith for both me and my family. While I knew that they believed in me and trusted that I would do well in my course, I felt the massive pressure of holding up the standards that I thought my parents had for me. This manifested in me berating myself every time I thought I went over my budget or didn’t get the highest grade. While my classmates in London were wonderful people, I would often compare myself to them and feel like I didn’t belong there. If this wasn’t enough, 2020 became even more surreal with the onset of a global pandemic. I packed up and came back home to be safe with my family and while I know I made the right choice, there is still a voice in my head that makes me feel like I failed somehow. What Rhea is facing is a very common experience that many people face - imposter syndrome. It comes in various forms and can even affect the most successful individuals due to the enormous amount of pressure on themselves to perform, and perform well. Perfectionism is a trait that is linked to this. To me, imposter syndrome is spending a lot of time second guessing almost every choice I make. All the way from picking an ice cream flavour to deciding what career path to take. In university, if I get a good grade, I don’t attribute it to the long days and nights I spent researching. For some reason, I think that it’s luck, or that my lecturers were being lenient. I have always had a hard time appreciating the work I put into my tasks because I have a hard time accepting that I deserve to be appreciated. While this may sound like something that should be easily fixable, I wish I could say that this is something only I experience. Unfortunately, people all around the world face similar feelings of extreme self-doubt.
Battling with the Imposter It is difficult to work around feeling this way because for some of us, it is so ingrained that it just feels like the truth. Personally, I have started to become very aware of my thoughts when I feel this way. I try to rationalise my thoughts and wait until the feeling passes, before I go about my day. Sometimes, when things get too overwhelming, I reach out to my best friend and she reminds me of all the things I have accomplished.
Words of encouragement can go a long way when you decide to open up to someone. These are both things that you may want to try out if you feel the way I do, and here are a few more:
1. List it out - Make a list of the things you know you can do, even if you don’t think you’re amazing at it.
2. Be proactive - Don’t hold back just because you think someone else may be better at it. Read up on a subject you’re interested in, watch videos and think about what you would do if you had the chance. This way, you will grow more confident and feel less intimidated by other people. 3. Remember to smell the roses - Keep in mind the positive feedback that you get, as much as you remember the negatives. This can be difficult because the negatives seem more glaring so try and jot down the positive feedback or compliments that come your way.
4. We’re all in the same boat - It always helps to know that you are not alone in your struggles. There is always help at hand and it is always healthier to reach out to a friend or a professional depending on your mental state.
Subtitles: Patient: I feel so out of place at my workplace, I feel lost and scared that I will be put in a spot someday and everyone will know that I am incompetent. Therapist: But you’ve worked so hard and your boss gave you a special mention at your last meeting. Surely, this means you deserve where you are?
Patient: Oh no, I’ve fooled them too.
Socratic questioning can be a useful tool to help you challenge your thoughts and beliefs, especially if you struggle with imposter syndrome. Sometimes, the thoughts and beliefs that we hold are irrational, illogical and harmful and can lead to low self-esteem and perhaps not taking on opportunities or experiences due to fear of not being good enough. This cognitive restructuring technique helps you to acknowledge, challenge and replace any thoughts and beliefs that are not realistic or factual. The idea is to ask yourself a series of clear, open and neutral questions that will help you explore your beliefs:
Is this thought realistic?
Am I basing my thoughts on facts or on feelings?
What is the evidence for this thought?
Could I be misinterpreting the evidence?
• Am I viewing the situation as black and white, when it’s really more complicated?
Am I having this thought out of habit, or do facts support it?
Reference: Sutton, 2020. Socratic Questioning in Psychology. Positive Psychology.
We have listed out some of our favourite resources, readings and support services that may be useful in supporting your wellbeing – give them a try! LobaLand x TheNapMinistry – rest then rise guided meditation for the black community during this time of activism to help recharge energy and change the world for the better (available on all streaming platforms) Black, African and Asian therapy Network is a directory of therapists and counsellors of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage. They offer some free services too. Black Minds Matter UK provide free professional mental health resources and therapy to Black people in the UK. Chinese Mental Health Association - provide a diverse range of services such as counselling to Chinese people living in the UK. Inside Out UK have a blog, workshops and events that provide young adults with the tools and techniques to manage and optimise their mental wellbeing. You can sign up to the newsletter for notification of upcoming events too! You Feel Like Shit - an interactive flow chart for anyone who may be struggling with self care. Let’s Talk Bruh - A podcast exploring self-care for Black Men Reading: Racial Microaggression in Everyday Life – for more information on the different forms of microaggression and how they manifest in our society. A Black Lives Matter Google Doc – compiling mental health resources, readings, templates and resources for organising within the education system and more Mental Health Foundation: BAME and mental health – more information and statistics surrounding BAME mental health outcomes.
In the first instance, we would recommend seeking help through your university’s welfare services, as often this is the quickest way to receive psychological help and advice as a student. Crisis Care If you or someone you know is experiencing a wellbeing crisis and/or wants to end their life, please contact emergency services (999) or your GP as soon as possible. If you or the person feels they cannot keep themselves safe, stay with someone until help arrives. Please know that there is no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings. The most important thing is to seek support so that you or the person you are concerned about do not have to struggle with those feelings alone. If suicidal feelings become intense or develop into urges and/or plans please seek emergency support as soon as possible. Talking Therapies Therapy for common disorders such as depression and anxiety are now widely available across England thanks to the Improving Access to Therapies (IAPT) services. Each borough or locality has its own therapy service which can vary in size, waiting times, and therapeutic options available. The most commonly available therapy is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Most services have a local website where you can look up how to get access to their service. Some require referrals via a GP, whilst others accept self-referrals. * Mental Health Referrals Adults aged 18 and over need to access Adult Mental Health Services. Both Adults and CAMHS services provide support for depression, problems with food, self- harm, abuse, violence or anger, bipolar, schizophrenia and anxiety, and more. There are local NHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nurses, therapists, psychologists, support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals. You can refer yourself for an assessment with either service to see what help you could get. We would suggest initially visiting your local GP to see what help can be offered to you there. To find therapies in your local area, please go to http://bit.do/findtherapynhs * *due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19 referrals may be slower than usual.
There is also a lot of help and support that you can get online: www.rethink.org Rethink Mental Illness helps millions of people affected by mental illness by challenging attitudes, changing lives. Website contains A-Z factsheets on conditions, treatments, living with mental illness also information for carers. Advice line 0300 5000 927 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm www.thecalmzone.net CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a health promotion charity with the aim of reducing male suicide in the UK. Website contains helpful information and ways to get involved.Helpline 0800 58 58 585pm to midnight, 7 days www.papyrus-uk.org Site focused on preventing young suicide with dedicated sections on resources for young people and their friends. Hopeline UK 0800 0684141 Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm www.talktofrank.com Web-based information as well as an email service and helpline. Website contains A-Z of drugs and advice on what to do if you are worried about a friend. Helpline 0300 123 6600, 2pm to 6pm
www.lifesigns.org.uk Site that gives guidance and support around self- harming.
www.nightline.ac.uk/want-to-talk A confidential listening, support and practical information service for University students You can talk to them about anything – big or small – in complete confidence without judgement. Call (+44)207 631 01016pm to 8am BST every night of term www.nopanic.org.uk No Panic helps people who experience Panic Attacks, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and other related anxiety disorders including those people who are trying to give up Tranquillizers. Helpline 0844 967 4848, 7 days 10am to 10pm www.mind.org.uk Mind is a mental health charity offering both frontline services and online information. A-Z information about mental health and information and support can be found on their website. Info line 0300 123 3393 Legal Advice line 0300 466 6463 www.samaritans.org Samaritans provide a helpline for people wanting assistance to talk about issues related to their wellbeing or any other problem troubling them. Helpline 08457 909090, 24hrs, 7 days a week https://www.studentminds.org.uk/ The student minds website has a wealth of information and resources about being a student and managing your mental health as well as information if you are concerned about a friend.
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