Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Chapman - Interview 20

Age at interview: 23
Age at diagnosis: 20

Brief outline: Chapman, 23, describes himself as Black-African and was born in Zimbabwe. He has been in the UK for 7 years and is awaiting the decision of an application for asylum. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 20.

Background: Single. Ethnic background/nationality: Black-African (born in Zimbabwe); in UK for 7 years.

Audio & video

Chapman, 23, describes himself as Black-African and was born in Zimbabwe. Chapman had experienced problems with his mental health in Zimbabwe. He says he didn't try to get help because he didn't want to be shunned, and although he tried to act normal, he says he wasn't fooling anyone and people noticed his behaviour. Chapman says his mental health problems were caused by the loss of his sister and his mum. He says he was seeing weird things and doesn't know if they were real or not and prefers not to talk about it because he's trying to forget. 

He has been in the UK for 7 years and has been awaiting the decision of an application for asylum for 2 years. Chapman came here because of the problems in Zimbabwe, and probably wouldn't have come to the UK otherwise. He came with a cousin but they're no longer in contact.

Whilst living in the UK, Chapman has experienced bullying, racial harassment and has been beaten up. He says he tried to ignore what was happening to him and was drinking alcohol to try to cope' he was spending all his money on alcohol instead of food. Chapman was arrested by the police for theft and sent to hospital where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Chapman disagrees with his diagnosis' he believes the doctor diagnosed and then discharged him because he Chapman wasn't being co-operative and had tested positive for crack, heroin and cannabis. Chapman says his diagnosis cannot be correct because otherwise the medications he has tried would help to control his symptoms. He thinks he may have paranoia and depression. He says he found it difficult to explain to the doctor. When he was discharged from hospital, Chapman was homeless and he slept rough for between 6 months and a year. 

Chapman experiences hallucinations (hears voices and sees things) and paranoia. He finds this scary and it makes him angry. 

He says he would rather not try counselling or therapy because it might make things worse and bring back things that he's forgotten. He has considered electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) but is worried it might affect his memory. Chapman uses drugs and alcohol to try to cope with his symptoms, but he says it doesn't really help, and smoking cannabis makes him more paranoid. He has tried watching television or listening to music but this is difficult because he sometimes thinks the television is talking to him. Chapman has a depo injection every fortnight (Consta Risperidone). When he had tablets he didn't take them because he thought the alcohols and drugs would affect the medication.

Chapman says he used to be an enthusiastic young boy who played sports but he now he just lays on his bed and drinks, has no qualifications and is not allowed to work because of his asylum status. He socialises and plays pool at a local support centre where he has received some help. Chapman thinks he might recover eventually but says it won't be any time soon.


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