Mental health problems affect countless members of the Somali community and although mental health problems are universal, there are barriers and challenges unique to the Somali community, which makes the response to and addressing mental health very difficult. This stems from the overall acceptance of mental health within our community. One of the main barriers is understanding what mental health is. Many members of the Somali community are unable to identify their own mental health issues and do not have the tools to do so. There is a stigma surrounding mental illness and there is a common belief that it is something that will always be attached and cannot be overcome. The attitude that mental illness is a form of weakness is prevalent within the Somali community, hindering the overall health outcomes and decisions for individual cases.
In addition to the barriers within the community, there are several barriers from institutions and access to support services for Somalis from mental health. Our ‘Improving Mental Health Support for the UK Somali Community’ policy briefing outlined key issues surrounding mental health that are prevalent in the Somali community, whilst simultaneously identifying recommendations for key stakeholders and policy decisions makers both locally and nationally. Our report uncovered that 58% of people needed mental health support and only 14% went to seek and used these services. Furthermore, 80% of respondents felt that current mental health services available do not understand nor do they cater to the needs of the Somali community. To read the full report follow this link.
It is important to look after your mental well-being. Here are a few small things that you can do to help your own mental health:
- Talking to someone
- Keeping active
- Eating well
- Getting enough sleep
- Asking for help
- Taking a break
Follow this link to see mental health related resources written in Somali.
ATM has been doing a lot to raise mental health awareness and providing a number of support services. In the past year, we offered free therapy sessions for young people and produced a mental health policy briefing with several key recommendations for policymakers at local and central government level to influence government agencies and departments. Now, we are planning to provide therapy sessions for our young service users for the next year and beyond.