Being BME

I’m Shadab, BME Rep for SMC and I wrote this short blog post to help shine a light on a possible BME experience here at Cambridge.

I am very happy to have seen the creation of a BME representative position on the SMC Committee as it is an area that is far too often overlooked by the majority of people, whether they be students or staff here.

Coming from a different cultural background where you are a minority can be very difficult, especially at Cambridge where pressures are already high. Finding a sense of belonging is just another task to have to complete whilst here, and it can be argued this is inherently more difficult coming from a BME background just because there are so few others who identify in a similar way with regards to cultural experiences.

This can exacerbate the effects of ‘imposter syndrome’ that many people feel when arriving, which can lead to negative effects on mental health and well being. This is where I feel the need for a BME representative comes in. The feelings of anxiety and depression might never have even be discussed back home, or when the topic has arisen, it was dismissed as being over dramatic or just being weak.

It’s important to realise that everyone’s experience of mental health will vary to a great extent, depending on their gender, race, sexuality and just individual circumstances. People might be reluctant to discuss their mental state or due to these different experiences that will have shaped their feelings towards it. An example being that depression being a sign of a lack of faith in some religious households as opposed to a tangible problem. This is why I believe it’s important to emphasise that everyone needs a slightly different approach to mental wellbeing and that it is definitely not a one size fits all concept.

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As diverse as it gets here….

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International officer – Kleopatra Kyprianou

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Hello! My name is Kleopatra Kyprianou (she/her) and I’m excited to be taking the role of International Officer in this year’s SMC Committee. The role has recently been introduced, as it is important to view mental health in Cambridge from an international perspective, taking into account the additional pressures that international students face, like adjusting to a different culture, feeling homesick, or dealing with any adverse sociopolitical and economic issues back home. I am myself an international student, having lived in Cyprus, Canada, and England, and therefore aware of the stresses involved in adapting to new environments. As a Psychology student, mental health is something that I feel strongly about, especially within the university setting where I have experienced how the nature of the education system can sometimes be damaging to students’ well-being. In joining SMC I hope to contribute to some of the great work they have already been doing and be able to take that a step further by finding out how Cambridge can better support its international population’s mental health. Please feel completely free to contact me for any suggestions / advice / or information and have a great start of Lent!