research from the Mental Health Foundation, so why are we the most reluctant to seek help? Why is it so difficult for a black man or woman as strong and resilient and powerful and sexu- al and magical as we are all supposed to be, to admit that we feel we are breaking a little in- side? Why can we not express that we feel lost or alone or frightened or unsure? Firstly, the topic is still a taboo and seen by many in the community as an issue surround- ed by fear and embarrassment despite how common it is. Some black folk are reluctant to engage with services due to a lack of trust in the system and an understanding, whether real or imagined, that the services available are not designed for us and cannot accommodate our specific cultural needs. How can any white counsellor or psychotherapist or GP – or even a black one who has been trained in a system which is institutionally racist – really under- stand or benefit us is a question often posed. How can they understand how it feels as a man to know that at any moment, depending of course on how you speak and how you’re dressed, that you can be mobbed by a group of uniformed white men and publicly harassed, groped and humiliated because you look sus- picious? How can they understand the anxiety felt by the hijab on the train platform who has seen video after video of other veiled ladies be- ing dragged through the streets or pushed onto railway tracks because they choose to cover their bodies? Secondly, people may not even realise they’re in need of any help. Physical health is a spectrum. Depending on who one is speaking to poor physical health could refer to anything from poor fitness or a common cold or infection to compli- cations of terminal illnesses and fatal diseases. It’s the same with mental health too. There are extreme cases and milder cases and just as most people are not at their full potential of physical well-being I don’t believe as many people are at the full potential of their mental well-being as we’d like to think. Dr Victoria Showunmi, UCL Institute of Education lecturer says, “I don’t talk to people who say they have mental health is- sues. I talk to black women in particular and, af- ter speaking to them in a discussion group, say, they will then acknowledge the fact they have been suffering from issues related to bad mental health.”  The main reason for this, she suggests, is “the need to be strong, resilient, [and] fear of being called an angry black woman. Looking at black women, it’s interesting to look at the extent to which this desire to be strong and resilient is, in fact, weakening us and chipping away at our core. When asked if black women face an increased risk in terms of experienc- ing poor mental health , Marcel Vige, head of equality improvement at Mind said, “The simple answer is “yes.” We have many of the same con- cerns that trigger our paler skinned peers how- ever, according to the NHS black British women are more prone to experience common mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. How can they understand the impact of one’s self esteem ex- isting in a world where it is growing increasingly important to be beautiful, to look attractive, to be other people’s #goals, yet you are flooded with Little did I know of the duplicity he navigated through daily and the pain which coloured in the voids between the lines when no one was around. 21 / BLANCKLITE / OCT 2018 /