Bake-off star talks mental health in new documentary

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The BBC programme ‘Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety and Me’ was filmed to tie in with this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week, with Ms Hussain hoping her openness will inspire others to seek help and fight the stigma associated with mental health issues.

The British bake-off winner opened up to Oxford Health clinical psychologist Paul Salkovskis during cognitive behavioural therapy at the Warneford hospital in Oxford.

Why did you want to make this documentary?

I made this documentary because the biggest problem with having a mental health illness is the lack of talking and communication. If I break my finger, I go to accident and emergency. If I have a cold, I go to the pharmacy. If I’m broken inside, where do I go? So, to help myself heal, I felt the best way to do this would be to talk, to share and to better understand what it is that I have. In doing so I was hopeful that I could find a solution, a cure or a way out. I had to be honest and speak truthfully and share that I, like anyone else, can suffer. I keep going on about talking and sharing and here I am bare, no frills, sharing, talking.

When did your mental health first become a concern in your life?

It’s a feeling that I have had since I can remember. Undiagnosed, I always just thought it was my personality until I started having what felt like moments of stress that left me immobile and I couldn’t breathe and I would feel light headed. It was debilitating and that didn’t feel normal.

How has talking openly and publicly about your struggles with mental health helped you? Do you think it can help others who may be going through the same?

It has helped to talk about it publicly but equally it has also added to the anxiety. I think by speaking out and being honest and transparent it will help others to realise that they are not alone on this journey.

Why is it so important to seek help and treatment about mental health issues?

It is so important to recognise it early and to seek treatment and support which will be beneficial to your overall mental health in the long run.

If you could give any mental health advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Talk to someone. I bottled up all my emotions and forced myself to grow up faster than I needed to. What advice would you give to people who want to help loved ones who struggle with their mental health? Have an open mind and realise that you may not always understand or ‘get’ what they are saying. It’s about listening, not judging and saying ‘what can I do to help’? Often it’s so hard to get to point where you are even talking to someone about it, so to get that far is a massive step for most people and that in itself is a huge leap. It’s important to understand the courage that it takes to get there.

This article was adapted from the Oxford Mail

The BBC documentary can be watched here.

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