After watching, “Being Black And Going Crazy” I have found myself, as a black woman with certified and diagnosed mental health problems, reflecting upon the show and my own personal experiences.
I have been an inpatient at various mental health hospitals in both Birmingham and London over the last three years and cannot say that the ratio of Black patients, White patients, Asian patients and any “Other” patients has dominated more than each other, it has always been pretty equal. Regardless to the culture in which the area of the hospital is situated, because with the huge NHS Mental Health budget crisis, there are often national shortages of beds and so you end up where you end up, regardless of where you come from or which mental health hospital is closer to your home logistically.
I have always tried to accept help when it has been offered, when a psychiatric team suggest you go into hospital, you know it is both serious and important because it is not an easy decision to make or accommodate. If you refuse to comply, you may very well get sectioned and so do always try to accept the help when it is offered, as it is hard to come by.
The only difficulty that I have found as a black woman, is the patronising, inappropriate chat off the ward nurses of African or Caribbean descent. Although I believe that these members of staff were just trying to help, trying to show empathy but they approached me in the wrong way and gave some terrible, unprofessional and uncalled for advice. “Listen my sister, where in Africa are you from? You have a nice skin tone. What do you have to be depressed about? Do you think you are the only one who has had a hard life sister!? You will end up getting diagnosed if you don’t stop. Just pray to God and he will guide you sister.”
Excuse me! Firstly, I am not your sister! Secondly, I am not from Africa! Who cares what skin tone I have!? I don’t know all the reasons and why I am depressed. I most definitely know that life is and can be hard on everyone, not just me! Stop what!? Surely a diagnosis will lead to some kind of understanding, provide some answers!? Pray to God!? I did not disclose that I am religious!
The assumptions’ that these ladies made, the way they spoke to me, what they said to me, it was all because I was a black patient.
Each time I have been admitted into hospital has been because of troubles with my mentality, some of those problems were caused by genetics, both nature and nurture, but not because of the colour of my skin and whether the nurses had good intentions or not, I believe that their approach was unprofessional! I never witnessed them talk to any other people (not of colour) in the same way! I did see them approach fellow black patients.
Every patient, no matter what colour of their skin, their age, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, diagnosis, they all deserve equal treatment.
“If you would treat the black man like you treat the white man , carry on man! Peace and Love”
“I am a black, thirty-two year old woman with various mental health problems.” Joe Blogs can home in on any part of that information but from the mind of a mental health professional, all they should hear is,”mental health problems”. Ethnicity, age and gender should come second.