Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Sarah - Interview 28

Age at interview: 48
Age at diagnosis: 46

Brief outline: Sarah, a married mother of 4, is Chinese and came to the UK from Hong Kong when she got married. She was diagnosed with depression when she was 46. Sarah gets a lot of comfort from her religion - she says she would feel very depressed without it.

Background: Housewife, married with 2 adult children and 2 younger children. Ethnic background/nationality: Chinese (born in China).

Audio & video

English translation available below.

Sarah came to the UK from Hong Kong when she got married. When she arrived she had no friends or family here and found it difficult balancing looking after her children and business. Her mental health problems began when her takeaway business was harassed and threatened by gangsters - she stopped sleeping but felt reluctant to take sleeping tablets that the doctor gave her. The costs of running the business also caused her concern and made her lose her appetite and feel unwell.

As a result of her mental health problems, Sarah is unable to work. She says she feels very stressed and has pains in her chest and back; she often cries and sometimes feels like she doesn't want to live any more. She says feeling unwell can also make her be very strict with her children and cause tension and arguments with her husband.

Sarah has found it difficult to communicate with doctors and others because she does not speak English. When she has had problems using an interpreter, and says they sometimes do not just translate but interfere in the conversation. Her doctors did not supply an interpreter and refused to allow her to make an appointment unless she provided one - sometimes her children help with interpreting. In general, Sarah found it difficult to get an appointment with her doctor, and at first she thought she being discriminated against, but later realised everyone was treated the same. She says she felt bad for bothering her doctor all the time; on one occasion she says he would not tell her how to take her medication properly and made her feel guilty for taking up his time saying she should have asked her daughter. She doesn't feel like there is time to discuss how she feels with her doctor.

Her GP referred her to an organisation for people of Chinese origin so that she could get support in her own language' this organisation helped her to sort out her social security benefits, and gave her support and counselling. She also joins in with their activities.

Sarah finds comfort in her religion (Christianity), and says she would probably get depressed without it. She has got help and support from her new church, but thinks that if people in her church knew about her mental health problems they would see her differently. Sarah uses prayer and walking to relieve her stress.


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