Nadiya Hussain: I’ve not spoken to my parents about my mental health

Sherna Noah
·3-min read

Nadiya Hussain says she has not spoken to her parents about her own mental health problems despite her TV documentary on the issue.

The ex-Bake Off winner, 36, made a film about her anxiety for the BBC after years of struggling in silence.

She told That Gaby Roslin Podcast: “Within my family, my community or Bangladeshi people, there’s this silence that I’m just afraid will never go away.

“Even now, to this day, I have never openly spoken about my mental health to my parents.

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“They have watched the documentary and they know that I suffer with mental health issues, but we’ve never spoken about it.”

She added: “There is no terminology for mental health illness within our community. Often there are different words used such as, ‘She’s gone mad or they have been possessed or they’re on drugs’… there is no actual word to explain mental health issues/illness.

Watch: William and Kate urge people to keep talking about mental health

“So how can you talk about something that isn’t even in their vocabulary?”

Hussain added: “For me, as a Bangladeshi woman, talking about mental health isn’t as easy within my community as it is outside.

“I’d love to be in a position where I could speak about mental health issues within my community.

“Even people in my own generation do not like the word, they say ‘I don’t want my family/kids to have that label, so I don’t want to see a doctor.’

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“There’s a massive stigma attached to it even within my generation who understand it.

“There is a lot of work to be done and it won’t be done via one documentary or a couple of books.

“It’s way too complicated … It is something that I work on all the time, we’ve got a long way to go to dispel the myths that come with mental health illness.”

Hussain also told the podcast she did not realise how big a deal it was to bake a cake for the Queen’s birthday because “I’m not a royalist”.

The Great British Bake Off winner served up an orange drizzle cake with orange curd and orange butter cream for the monarch.

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“I was so naive. It’s really weird, growing up in an immigrant home, I’m not a royalist, my parents aren’t at all interested in the royal family, not one tiny bit,” she told the podcast.

“They know who they are. From Diana onwards, they’ve been interested, but anything before they’re not that interested.

“So, for them, it wasn’t a big deal at all. So, I didn’t realise how big a thing it was. But it was scary, very scary. ”

She asked her daughter what type of cake she should bake for the queen and she told her: “You’ve already baked a cake for the Queen…Mary Berry is the Queen!”

Hussain said of her relationship with her parents: “No matter what I do, no matter how many episodes of cookery shows or books I publish, none of that will make me higher than my parents in terms of hierarchy and it shouldn’t, because they are up there exactly where they should be.

“If I go to their house then I’ll get in, hoover, tidy up and I love that I can do that. I can’t go to anyone else’s house and do that!”

She said of her mother: “She is one of those parents with no filter and I like that because we live in a world where we’re almost gagged of an opinion. It’s refreshing to go home to parents who just say it how it is.”

That Gaby Roslin Podcast is available on all podcast streaming platforms. Hussain’s episode is released on Monday.

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