2018 · ARC · Review

Review – Colour of Madness: An exploration of BAME mental health in the UK

I saw this on NetGalley as I was trying to find something to read for Black History Month (October in the UK). The title really gripped me and then the description sounded very interesting too so I went ahead an requested it.

This book has been provided by NetGalley and Stirling Publishing in return for an honest review. Thank you!


The Colour of Madness

by Varied. Edited by Dr Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott


Synopsis by NetGalley

‘mental health is anything but black and white’

The Colour of Madness is a seminal BAME led and curated anthology comprised of poetry, fiction, memoirs, essays and artwork submitted by BAME writers, academics, mental health workers, artists and those still navigating life with mental health issues.  

A powerful and representative book that addresses the disparity between mental health care afforded to the BAME community and to the community at large.


My Opinion

4.5 stars

Highlights

The variation in media types

The insight

The amount I learned


Overall

This is a beautiful mix of artwork, poems, fictional short stories and non-fictional memoirs by BAME artists and writers in the UK about their experiences with mental health and being BAME ( Black Asian & Minority Ethnic).

I liked every single entry in this book but some of the hit me harder than others.


The Stories, etc

There are all sorts of media types in here; poetry, short fictional stories, non-fiction stories, research summaries, memoirs, interviews, etc. It had it all.

These stories explore all types of mental illness including depression, PTSD, postnatal depression, suicidal, bulimia, hypomania, and self-harm, to name a few.

I learned a lot! I learned that Sikhism and depression are polar opposites. I learned that bulimia is more than just eating it is self-medication and self-harming through the medium of food. I learned that the UK mental health system and society has an issue of systematic racism in the smaller finer details of life which prevents some people from seeking help, and causes the patient to be mislabeled by their white doctors.  I learned a lot more too, and I hope the knowledge will stay with me for a long time and change the way I see both the society and the mentally ill of all colours.

It’s difficult to judge these individual pieces as they are so different and personal. I will instead mention a few that stuck with me.

My favourite artwork was Daily Reminder by Avila Diana Chidume. Where a black woman sits at the dinner table with a spotlight on her table showing one pill 💊 . You can interpret this in several ways I did two ways: 1) The impact of her medicine is her daily reminder that either not everything is as it should and the shame with that, or 2) it’s a daily reminder that we take one day at a time starting with taking your pill every day and see where it takes us.

Dear Friend with the Old Friend by Eljae is a poem on death which made me cry. It ends with these words:

So to you, dear friend

I say this:

I understand why you would stop; lean in, and let go

And I am so proud of you

for the fight

Because if this isn't bravery I don't know what is

Bike Dream by Temitope Fisayo was an insight into a black teenager’s life in a white private school. He talks about the effects of racism and how he is told he is hysterical when he points it out, on his already worsening depression. This story was my favourite and is the story that will be with me for a very long time. It was a downward set of stairs and very well written. The story starts off nicely and normal and then sucks you in and takes you down the stair step by step.


Writing

As every part of the book is written by a different writer or not written at all, I can only comment that I had no problems with the writing.


Summary

That was an informative and emotional read. I feel saying “I loved it” is wrong, but it was really good and hit home.

It definitely set a seed of empathy in me as the conclusion wished it would.

I really hope this isn’t one of those books I learn a lot from and then eventually forget about. I hope the knowledge stick with me for a very long time.

I will definitely purchase a copy of this book to have on my shelves.

If you are interested in mental health and like all types of art and media, I recommend this to you.


Have you read this? What did you think?

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2 thoughts on “Review – Colour of Madness: An exploration of BAME mental health in the UK

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