Conference tackles mental health stigma

11th July 2017
Sheffield hosted its first South Asian Mental Health Conference on 29 April at the Pakistani Muslin Centre.  The free event was organised by Naghat Basharat, EPIC Link Worker with the support of Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC) and the Pakistani Muslim Centre. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about mental health among Sheffield’s South Asian communities, tackling the stigma that still so often surrounds mental health and providing information and advice from inspirational speakers including Lord Nazir Ahmed, Imam Ismail and executives from the Pakistani Muslim Centre. Clinical and non-clinical staff from SHSC also spoke about how to access services, their own personal experience of mental health services and harnessing the energy from the day to further address the stigma around mental health. Naghat Basharat, EPIC Link Worker (SHSC), said: “As part of my role I work with mental health service users and their families on the in-patient wards.  It became obvious to me that the most common issue service users  face is the stigma which surrounds their illness.  This stigma and the impact it has on service users’ lives can often be more distressing that the mental illness itself.  I wanted to do something to address the stigma around mental illness in the South Asian community and I am very proud that we managed to bring together so many people together and get everyone talking.” Kim Parker, Senior Nurse (Quality) (SHSC), said: “I am delighted that we have been able to support Naghat in raising awareness of mental health and fighting the stigma that is all too often associated with mental illness.  We all know the statistic that one in four of us will be affected by mental ill health at some point in our lives.  It is vitally important that we all work together so that people are able to get the support they need, when they need it.” Clive Clarke, Deputy Chief Executive (SHSC) who spoke at the conference said: “This conference is a conversation starter and we all need to make sure that we keep the conversation going so we can make sure that communities are not afraid to ask for support for fear of being ostracised or stigmatised by society.   We need to be doing all we can to raise awareness that it is okay to say if you’re not feeling okay.”