By Rajdeep Jheeta
LEEDS STUDENTS speak out about the problems within the Sikh community by discussing the issues they deal with day-to-day.
The Leeds Sikh society came together at University of Leeds on Thursday to discuss the stigma attached around mental health and wellbeing in the community.
The workshop was held by organisers Manveer Kaur and Tript Kaur, both community developers from Touchstone, who are based in Leeds.
They are a community development service who aim to improve quality, equality, and equity of ethnic minorities.
Manveer Kaur said: “We want to encourage these discussions everywhere and break the barriers in the community.”
She said: “It’s the first time doing workshops in the Sikh community and we have received funding to start this. We want to create a buzz in the environment and reach out to everyone.”
It is an issue which is not often spoken about within the South Asian community.
Issues such as depression, which caste you are from (a system formed in India which defines your social status from birth) and anxiety, are brushed under the carpet.
The main topic of ‘fikar’ was discussed which translates to worry, meaning you allow other people’s judgement to affect you.
When it comes to problems with depression or anxiety, some people, particularly elderly people in the community will say: “Don’t worry.” So, the problem is never solved and can escalate.
Students formed a group discussion talking about what worries them and how they deal with it.
Sehaj Singh, student at Leeds University, said: “I allocate spare time to have some fun to get away from the problem. I do gymnastics twice a week and go to salsa for fun.”
He added: “When I have finished with my activities I will then go back to do some work the next day. I will get so much done because I am feeling invigorated from the activity.”
One student discussed that exam pressure and finding a placement for a job is a worry for her. She said: “I cope by listening to music which helps, or focusing on something else that I need to do.”
The main aims for Touchstone is to hold informative sessions for all communities and connect with people by helping them.
Factfile mental health and wellbeing:
Suicide is low among Asian men and older people, but high in young Asian women compared with other ethnic groups. Indian men have a high rate of alcohol-related problems
A recent study of young people of Asian origin in the UK found that the suicide rate of 16-24 year old women was three times that of 16-24 year old women of white British origin
Signs of stress and anxiety:
- Eating too much or little
- Aches and pains
- Wanting to be left alone
- Weird feeling in the stomach
- Sleeping too much or less sleep
- Getting angry
Reasons why people worry
- Time management