Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

H. Y. Leung - Interview 29

Age at interview: 60
Age at diagnosis: 40

Brief outline: HY Leung, 60, was admitted to a London psychiatric hospital. She says her doctors don't understand what she's going through. She feels God accepts and understands her, which supports her to face the challenges of her illnesses and to carry on her life.

Background: Housewife, divorced with 1 adult child. Ethnic background/nationality: Chinese (born in China).

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H. Y. Leung helped to write her story. English translation available below.

H. Y. Leung was unwell when she was 40 and also suffers from 'out of control' and disabling headaches. Since then H. Y. Leung feels like things and her actions are out of her control and has felt helpless. She later was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

When she was hospitalised, she felt happy because she thought she'd get the treatment she needed, but she didn't realise she was on a mental health ward. She could not understand how she could have ended up on a mental health ward in hospital. While she was in hospital she was forced to take medication without really understanding what it was. After being discharged, she went back to Hong Kong to receive treatment. She says that although the medication helped with her recovery, it did not help her relationship with her husband, who couldn't understand her illness.

In the treatment process, H. Y. Leung feels that doctors in England don't really understand what she's going through, and the main reason is the poor quality of interpretation. The interpreters did not help her understand the treatment, and could not support the doctor to understand her, which led to problems with her treatment. She hopes doctors can make more of an effort to understand patients and their history, and says the quality of interpreters should be improved.

H. Y. Leung thinks she has experienced discrimination in the process of receiving treatment in the hospital and seeing her GPs in the UK. She believes it is both because of her mental health problems and because she does not understand English. In the process of seeing doctors, she felt she did not receive proper treatment according to her urgent needs most of the time.

As a result of her mental health problems, H. Y. Leung was unable to do regular things like shopping, housework, reading, writing or travelling like normal people; and finds it frustrating because she could not fulfil her desire to do these things. It would be useful if she could get practical support, for example, with her shopping, seeing the GP, and translating letters from the government. She gets on with her life by going to shopping, visiting friends and doing housework to manage her headache and illness. H. Y. Leung has also joined an organisation for people of Chinese origin and participates in meetings and other activities, and she says this has helped her to rediscover her strengths and capacities.

H. Y. Leung finds her religion very helpful and supportive. She says that people do not understand her but God understands and accepts her. In her everyday life, she manages by seeking guidance from God. She hopes to receive help from doctors so her head and brain can function normally as before.

H. Y. Leung believes that a lot of service users they have their strength, but they are not given opportunity and environment for them to manifest and hopes that sharing her experience will help others. She hopes the government can promote mental health issues to correct people's misconceptions, so that people from different walks of life can have a proper understanding of mental illnesses. She believes this would support the treatment process in a practical way.


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