My Story: Helping Break the Stigma that Surrounds Mental Health for Women of Color

By Saniya Ghanoui —

HM discusses what it is like to deal with mental health issues as a woman of color raised in a family that didn’t acknowledge mental health.


OBOS Today: So, you mentioned that you wanted to talk about mental health and your experiences, um, trying to attain, you know, proper mental health support. Could you shed some light on that? 

HM: Sure! So, um, I’ve always felt different. I’ve always been a lot more antsy as a person. And for years I had know too that I was suffering from generalized anxiety, um, and depression for a while because you know I just came from a culture that kind of looked down upon you know talking about mental health. If you talked about mental health, then you were crazy. I would tell my parents that I was sad, and they were like, “Oh go pray,” you know. And it was very hard for me to deal with it because in middle school and high school I was bullied a lot. I was always picked on for being you know a little nerdier and you know that really started to affect how I perceived myself and how I interacted with others.

I think the, the, moment where it kind of came to a head is when my father passed away and I just felt like very, very alone in the world because even though I, I did not have a solid therapist, um, you know he was the person I went to with my issues, so that was kind of when I started you know thinking about my mental health more and about and about thinking about myself and how I actually felt because for often for a long time I didn’t really express to people how I felt. You know I would always feel not good enough. I was constantly anxious. I had insomnia for years. I just started sleeping properly. Um, and going through the medical field it is hard as a Black woman to talk about mental health because in the, in the media, in just in general we’re, we’re, always perceived as you know strong or you know as you know being able to you know handle more than other women, which is obviously not true. So, when I would talk about my issues, everyone would be like that’s fine though. You’re so strong, like you’ll get over it. But I think we often neglect the mental health of women of color, and I’ve experienced that firsthand with how I was treated in regards to my mental health and my issues.