Shame, or Sharam, is still prevalent around the subject of mental health within South Asian communities. It tends to be kept behind closed doors. As a result, many do not get the help they need. Suicide rates amongst South Asian women continue to be worryingly high. Below, Sham Shakat, peer support facilitator at Leeds Mind, describes a new service for South Asian Communities.
Leeds Mind is delighted to be developing their peer support model to enable women from South Asian communities to access peer-led group work, within their local community. This project has been funded through a donation left by Nasa Begum to national Mind. Nasa Begum, a senior policy adviser to the Department of Health, was very open about her use of both mental health and physical disability services. When she died, aged 47, she left a legacy to Mind to develop support for Asian women experiencing difficulties with mental health.
Three of Leeds Mind’s peer support facilitators are working with local community organisations Dosti, Hamara, Touchstone, Khoshish and Chapeltown Children’s Centre. Plans are in place to work with young Asian females at The Market Place and Archway. By developing this work, Leeds Mind is creating new networks and hopes to bid for more funding in September.
The workshops and courses have been adapted to suit the women involved. The project has found that language is not a barrier in improving the women’s wellbeing. Bindu and Sham, who speak Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi, use a “mix and match” approach to deliver the workshops to meet the needs of the women they are working with. They are delivering a range of one-day workshops including confidence building, building resilience, managing stress, while Amanda from Inkwell is carrying out creative workshops such as jewelry making, wool felting and batik. Short-term counselling is also available to women in their own language.
It would be great to extend this work with Eastern European, African Caribbean and other BME communities across Leeds. If there is a community that you feel would benefit from this work contact Kathy Engler at Leeds Mind on 0113 305 5802 or Sham Shakat on 07923 455612.