Psychosis (young people)


Age at interview: 21
Age at diagnosis: 18

Brief outline: Tariq is 21 and of British Asian origin. He is a full-time university student.

Background: This 21 year old Asian student was diagnosed with manic depression and then schizophrenia. He doesn't think that the mental health system is institutionally racist, saying that he encountered discrimination due to his mental health not his ethnicity. Video clips read by an actor.

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Tariq is 21 and of British Asian origin. He is a full-time university student. He says his diagnosis has been difficult to pinpoint' first he was diagnosed with manic depression (aged 18) and then with schizophrenia. He's tried various medications, and his current one works but blocks out his feelings, causes drowsiness and makes it difficult to study and watch TV. He takes his medication late at night to manage these side-effects.

Tariq believes that his mental health difficulties were caused by the bullying and physical assaults he experienced at school following September 11 2001 combined with the trauma of having open heart surgery (he was born with a heart defect).

When he first became unwell, Tariq began to feel anxious, down, suicidal and was constantly reliving the bullying he had experienced. At first he thought this was normal. Just before his exams, he felt worse' he didn't want anyone to speak to him, felt like smashing things, and felt uncomfortable walking to college. He said he tried to act “normally” so people wouldn't be suspicious. Tariq also experienced hallucinations (he saw dead people and people followed him around the house), delusional thoughts and thought blocking (not being able to think for himself) and he attempted suicide several times. His mental health difficulties mean that he still gets anxious in public places. Tariq believes he is in recovery but that it will take years to recover.

Tariq is on an enhanced Care Programme Approach so he sees a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a mental health nurse. Tariq strongly disagrees with the idea of institutional racism because he has not experienced it personally. He is very happy with his mental health team, who he describes as warm, compassionate and kind. He felt he is listened to and says he negotiated his care plan. However, Tariq has written letters to his mental health trust to comment on the services he receives and to make suggestions for improvements. Tariq has also had a lot of support from his disability officer at university. Tariq has tried therapy, stress workshops, meditation, self-help books, and fitness videos but thinks “it's all rubbish”. Tariq is a practicing Muslim, but he says prayer has not helped him. He feels as though he has been rejected by his religion because of his mental health difficulties.

Tariq believes he has experienced more discrimination as a result of his mental health difficulties than his ethnic background. For example, Tariq described experiencing discrimination when applying for voluntary work because of his mental health difficulties. He believes that the Disability Discrimination Act is ineffective for people with mental health problems. Tariq has chosen to tell only close friends and family about his mental health difficulties because he feels that it could affect his chances of marrying in the future.

Tariq was made to feel like a “no-hoper” at school, but is proud to be at university, and this has boosted his self-esteem and confidence. He also works as a charity trustee and does voluntary work supporting hospital patients. Tariq plans to do a PhD and to become a university lecturer. Tariq is inspired by famous people in history who reportedly experienced mental health difficulties and feels he has gained from having mental health difficulties.

For more of Tariq’s interview see our site on ‘Mental health: ethnic minority experiences’


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