Time To Change

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Mental health problems are common and affect one in four people. People can and do recover from mental illness, often with the love and care of family and friends. Here 28-year-old Selina Khunkhuna (pictured left), who has recurring depression, and her mother Susan talk about the importance of family support and opening up about mental health.

Selina: "I was diagnosed with depression in 2003 during my final year at university. At the time I was feeling pressure about my options once I graduated and what my life would be like afterwards. During a holiday abroad a family member noticed something was wrong with my behaviour and informed my parents; I became very unwell soon after."

"There is a lot of stigma and shame around mental illness in the Asian community and that mostly comes from misinformation and misunderstanding because it’s hidden away and people don’t talk about it. But I have a big, strong family network and they became involved in my care and took charge of how I would get better."

"I think my parents were shocked and scared by what was happening to me, and didn’t fully understand what was going on. They thought involving a faith healer would help, but we’ve now learnt about the type of support that people with mental health problems need and the benefits of seeking advice and treatment from medical professionals."

Harrow Times: Selina

"My family have been amazing, my mum especially - she is the first person I talk to when I am feeling unwell. It makes a big difference when you seek proper help and your family know how to care for you. It means you can be open about what you are going through. With the right family support you can and do get better. I am proof of that."

Susan: "When Selina was diagnosed with depression my husband and I did not know what was happening – we had no one to talk to and felt lost. At first she was admitted to hospital but we didn’t think it was the best place for her, so we took her home and decided to care for her ourselves."

"We were desperate to help our daughter and tried everything we could, like involving the faith healer, but once we turned to medical professionals we realised there were more effective treatments out there and we were not alone. Once you start talking about mental health you realise how many people are going through the same thing as you."

"I think people are afraid to be open about mental illness because they see it as a failure in some way. But that is not true; it is just an illness and it’s no one’s fault. My advice for anyone who has a loved one with mental health problems is to listen to them and also go to your GP and talk about what is happening. Once you open up it is possible to find support and recover, just like Selina."

It’s time to talk, it’s Time to Change. To find out more about ending mental health stigma please visit www.time-to-change.org.uk

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