Thanks for dropping by my website. This blog is usually aimed at unpaid carers and promoting mental health awareness. There will be times I will provide updates from the carer forums I host around South London, but due to limited resources, I just cannot always update.
Going off topic, at the time of this particular post, it is the 28th of Monday October 2019. Black History Month is soon drawing to a close, but there are still plenty of events going on around the UK. I have just participated at the St Andrews Black History conference, which was the first of its kind for the Charity. I am bound to blog a bit more about that when I get some time, however the conference opened my eyes to the challenges of BAME nurses and mental health professionals.
Still, I thought that this is not the time to focus on mental health professionals on this post, I want to jot down some thoughts about BAME unpaid carers. I know one of my forums is focuses on BAME families and carers, but to understand why I decided to set up that forum in Lewisham, it would be a good idea to carry on reading.
The struggle of BAME Carers
As an unpaid carer trying to work out my roles and duties. I felt my identity as a carer/BAME needs some highlighting. Even if it seems complex to others on being a Mental Health BAME unpaid carer. Such an identity shows the complexity and issues that I would need to face. Being an unpaid carer working towards being identified can often be a struggle, especially when caring during a crisis, but unfortunately carrying out a role and ones own identity can make matters tricky.
It is a sad fact that BAME carers tend not to engage much with services. There seems to be some form of distrust as to why their loved one is struggling with health services, especially mental health services. I see there is much change going on and for the better, I notice so many people trying very hard to change things for the better and I thank them for this, but there is still some ways to go.
The issue with BAME carers regarding mental health services is that they can be tired of the same journey. Having to challenge unconscious bias or wondering if they are being judged on their actions or on identity. Sometimes BAME families and carers feel they are being pushed into labelled boxes as engagement policies strive to identify BAME issues.
It does not help that their are also social challenges as well as health challenges within the BAME community, which can make life even harder for BAME families and carers.
If all the above was not tough enough, then BAME groups sometimes suffer from getting specific tailored support due to cultural misconceptions, language difficulties, stigma related issues and unfortunately discrimination.
So with all the above demanding change and attention, what can a BAME carer like myself do?
The power of BAME Carers
The first thing is to raise awareness of these experiences. Ever heard of the quote “A problem identified is half solved?”. Well I am not sure if the quote was said in this many, but it speaks volumes. BAME carers need to unfortunately help in raising awareness, especially of their experiences. BAME carers ought to try and network with other carers, just as some way to reduce the isolation. The more a person becomes isolated, the more they lack that vital support.
Unpaid carers often miss out on social interaction, specifically if the carer is supporting someone with serious mental health illness. It is so important carers recognise their isolation and take steps to counter the loneliness. It is ok to feel lonely, but to stay lonely is not ok.Embed from Getty Images
As a carer, so much usually goes on in my mind, there probably is not a day that I do not replay my failings and difficult experiences in my head. Perhaps I am too hard on myself, but at least I am slightly aware that I need that support. If you are a BAME carer, do yourself a favour and network. Phone a friend even if it is just to be heard.
For black history month, I made it my mission to take part in events that celebrate the diversity of the community. As a BAME carer, if you can get out there and speak about your experiences, it can shed more light on the subject of identity. Sometimes it is just on learning about your past and the culture you came from, sometimes we are more than what we do.
You deserve to have your voice and relate to the community, even if its for just that month. Being part of something need not be a challenge, but unfortunately BAME carers need to find somewhere that supports their voice and urges them to be part of the health system. As with BAME carers, we should be encouraged to be aware and celebrate what makes us different and feeling no shame or stigma about it. Deep down thought as carers we are all alike as we experience the same emotion all other unpaid carers go through. Those would be the fear that illness is taking it toll, the joy that we are supporting those we care about and so on.
There is nothing wrong in being proud as a carer, its not an easy role and depending on the MH or health challenges, the struggle of caring should be counted. It is not your fault that the person has become unwell, you are trying the best you can, especially if you are a young carer.
As BAME carers, even though its great to have Black History month boost, celebrate and educate our achievements. It should also be used as a welcoming of all who want to celebrate with us. As carers our nature is to be inclusive of others and we also require others to emulate what we are trying to do, especially healthcare. As carers we wish to see inclusive healthcare celebrating diversity and being proud it if, despite the challenges being asked.Embed from Getty Images
From what I have learnt from Black History month, which can help in regards to BAME carers is that we wish to avoid being forgotten. There is so much more to be learnt from Black History month, but as a carer the fear is that we could be forgotten as those we care about slip into declining health. It is an awful fearful experience to struggle alone at times and it really helps if someone out there acknowledges our struggle.
Thank you for reading and have a happy Black History Month.