981. Asha Iqbal
Asha Iqbal, from West Yorkshire, is the founder of an organisation dedicated to starting conversations about mental health in ethnic minority communities.
Inspired by her own struggles with anxiety and a realisation of the role the cultural aspects play in people seeking mental health support, Asha created ‘Generation Reform’. Asha facilitates workshops and talks delivered by people who have experienced mental health struggles themselves to encourage ethnic minority community groups to explore the issue. She uses personal stories to tackle stigma, speaking openly about how fears of shaming her family and not being ‘an obedient girl’ made her own anxiety worse. She has a large online following and shares advice and support over social media, receiving 2.5 million engagements every month.
In a personal letter to Asha, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The vital work of ‘Generation Reform’ is starting important conversations about mental health and wellbeing across ethnic minority communities. Your brave decision to speak openly about your own personal struggles with anxiety is breaking down stigma and paving the way for others to seek the support they need.”
Dee Collins CBE QPM, Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police which has worked closely with Asha and ‘Generation Reform’, said:
“As Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police I have been aware of the fantastic work that Asha has been doing around raising awareness and understanding of mental well being particularly within the BAME community.
“Her willingness to share her own experience and offer to support others is simply outstanding, and her very friendly and approachable style makes it so easy for others to engage with her. Her profile within social media has also helped her to reach out to many many people who are looking for advice and support.
“This award is truly very well deserved and also tremendous recognition of all that Asha has achieved thus far – very well done indeed.”
Lindsey Bennister, CEO of ‘MQ: Transforming Mental Health’, which has also worked closely with Asha and ‘Generation Reform’, said:
“I’m really pleased to hear about this recognition of Asha’s work in taking on mental illness, it is thoroughly deserved. Having had the privilege of working with her on MQ’s We Swear campaign we have seen the enthusiasm and drive she has to make a difference. Asha’s bravery and tenacity has been remarkable as she had led by example in demanding better and influencing change. It is a real pleasure to work with Asha and see first-hand her commitment to transforming mental health.”
“I am absolutely speechless and it is such an honour to be recognised for making an impact. All I wanted to do was break down barriers when it came to mental health in a society where it can sometimes make it so difficult to speak so openly. Passion is the thing that keeps me going when it comes to my mental health work and it drives me to keep doing a lot more. Thank you.”