Racism and bullying at school had a huge impact on Osama's mental health - but he's now speaking out to help others.
When I was in primary seven, I remember sitting in the corner of the playground, and I started to cry as it all just got to me. Two girls who were in my year came over to me, and asked what was wrong. I didn’t want to say, but they wouldn’t leave me until I told them. Them coming to me helped – and that memory sticks with me.
I’m backing the See Us campaign because of my experiences growing up, which was primarily of racism. There were also aspects of bullying because of my weight or learning disability – but it was mostly racism. And that had a big impact on my mental health.
It made me feel lonely and rejected, it made me feel like no one was there – it made me feel detached. I tried to speak out about it, but nothing ever changed.
When I left school, I wanted to speak out about my experiences – and the mental impact of racism.
In my community, people don’t see mental health as a big issue. They tend to gloss over it, or say, ‘It’s just in your head.’ That stigma is still there after so many years – it’s hard to speak out to my community when that’s how so many people feel.
No one needs to be an expert to talk about mental health. If you’re struggling, just talking about it – talking about stigma, talking about how you’re feeling – can help a lot. That’s why the See Us campaign is so important.
Folk from different communities, different walks of life coming together and talking about mental health and what they’ve faced, what help they’ve got, how they’re getting better, talking about the stigma they’ve faced, will make such a difference. That will help a lot of people to come forward and get help.Back to stories