This article was written by Anonymous Singh in response to the recent campaign by Time To Change around #AskTwice
In the pursuit of understanding how people are feeling, asking multiple questions should always be at the forefront of a conversation. Questions allow you to attain more detailed information and let you comprehend emotions, thoughts and feelings much better. So why in the Punjabi community are questions about mental health never asked, let alone twice?
Well… here is my take on why.
The notion of pride exists at the heart of the Punjabi community. A proud, Punjabi man is one said to be strong, closed and steadfast, however, through further investigation it is clear that pride is simply a cloak used to cover for fears of insecurity.
The negative perception of mental ‘weakness’ within the community is what makes the conversation about mental health ‘taboo’; it has become the very reason as to why we hide our emotions, thoughts and feelings rather than trying to understand them.
The conversation within the Punjabi community either doesn’t occur until it is ‘too late’, or if an individual does try and open up about their health, they are shunned, and the blame game is played. However, this should never be the case. You should be able to talk about how you feel, you should know that it is okay to talk about your mental health and you should be trying to help others by asking your friends and family how they feel.
But remember to always ask questions TWICE.
Asking someone how they feel once is usually never good enough, as the response tends to be generic, and closed, however by asking the same or similar question TWICE it not only enables the individual to provide more information, but it also showcases that you genuinely care.
Asking questions twice within our community has become a powerful notion to break the stigma around mental health, as it allows for the pride of an individual to take a step back, and the inner self to step forward and breath openly without feeling like they are burdening anyone or being seen to be weak.
The change needs to occur, people need to be heard and the community needs to band together as a strong unit to help facilitate this. You may not be aware of the problem, but YOU can be part of the solution, by asking questions (twice) you can help many open-up and seek the guidance that they truly deserve.
The Punjabi community are a giving community, we are known for our service, but as we provide the help and service to others, do not forget those that need us at home. The battle is both physical and mental, and as a community which has been through so much, we can make progress one step at a time.
If the message wasn’t clear enough so far, allow me to put it into Layman’s terms.
Talking about how you are, how you feel and your mental health in general does NOT make you weak! Being able to speak openly about your mental health makes dealing with it so much easier, and lets you take that step forward in combatting your inner self.
Ask questions, be there, help others.
Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji.