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Rabiah Dhaliwal On the Importance of Culturally Sensitive Therapy

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASMINE SEM-DUONG. Design by Danielle Campbell.

Welcome to My Story, our weekly collection championing creatives of color and their paths to success.

While sheltering in place at dwelling in Surrey, British Columbia in the course of the coronavirus clampdown, Rabiah Dhaliwal mastered winged liner. “I’ve become an eyeliner god,” laughs the 21-year-old.

Drawing the proper cat-eye flick is the most recent addition to Dhaliwal’s self-care menu, a variety of go-to actions put in place to enhance her well-being. “Even if I’m just going downstairs to make food then going off to study, [makeup] can feel empowering,” expresses Dhaliwal, who’s at present finding out science on the University of British Columbia and aiming for med college. And as somebody who has struggled together with her psychological well being for a number of years, self-care has change into essential, particularly throughout an unsettling pandemic.

Other restorative substances in her wellness recipe embody quick-start gadgets – like merely getting away from bed and setting a every day routine, journaling and inventive drawing – to huge ticket duties reminiscent of remedy. “Sometimes I need to go [to therapy] more, sometimes I need to go less…It just depends on what I’m going through at the time, and that’s completely okay.”

As for her trusty liquid eyeliner, attention-grabbing reality: It was a part of a swag bag she acquired on the Canadian version of the L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth gala pre-shutdown in March—together with a $10,00zero award. Each 12 months, the sweetness big seeks out Canadian ladies that show advocacy and alter inside their communities, and Dhaliwal, together with 9 different ladies, was honoured with a charitable grant.

Dhaliwal was acknowledged for her work as volunteer vice chairman with the One Blood for Life Foundation, a non-profit group which goals to extend the ethnic range of the nationwide stem cell registry so sufferers who require a stem cell transplant have a better likelihood of discovering a profitable donor. “You have a higher chance of finding a match within your own ethnic community. For a lot of racialized communities within Canada, those donor numbers are lower,” explains Dhaliwal, who began up with the group while in grade 12. It was extraordinarily significant work for her as, that very same 12 months, her beloved grandfather was identified with most cancers and required quite a few blood transfusions.

During the gala, Dhaliwal was additionally celebrated for turning into a dedicated psychological well being advocate after dwelling by private agony.

Rabiah Dhaliwal on the 2020 Women of Worth gala. Photograph courtesy of L’Oréal Paris Canada.

In grade 11, Dhaliwal struggled deeply together with her psychological well being and her deteriorating psychological state led to an tried suicide that left Dhaliwal in a coma and recovering in an adolescent psychiatric ward. “I was feeling suicidal because I didn’t have healthy coping strategies. Time in the hospital and going to counselling and therapy really helped equip me with those tools,” she says, acknowledging that her psychological well being is a continued therapeutic journey. “A big personal goal is to get to a point where I’m confident enough to say that I’ve been able to move past what I’ve been through.” One factor that has helped tremendously: Not dwelling on her well being points and, as a substitute, talking out and sharing her story.

The L’Oréal Paris grant impressed Dhaliwal to place the cash in the direction of beginning her very personal psychological well being group, a ardour venture that has been brewing in her thoughts for a while. “Winning was the affirmation that I needed that my mental health story was being heard and my work was being recognized. After that, I garnered up the courage to start,” she says.

Called the Voices for Hope Foundation, the group, which is in its planning section, goals to dispel dangerous misconceptions surrounding psychological well being and sickness, and convey mild to those “invisible” well being points. “We do that by spearheading educational workshops and campaigns, writing social justice think pieces and through policy and advocacy work,” states Dhaliwal.

And on the coronary heart of the group she is constructing is a platform to amplify BIPOC voices. “We want to give [people of colour] a safe space to share their experiences and equip them with tools for healthy healing” she says. This is especially necessary as a result of culturally delicate illustration and sources actually matter within the psychological well being house, one thing Dhaliwal needs she noticed when fighting suicidal ideas.

“I often felt a lack of validation and visibility due to there being an absence of culturally-informed therapy as well as a lack of BIPOC mental health professionals. I can also remember being 16 and being admitted to the adolescent psychiatric ward where I was the only brown person there and one of the few BIPOC patients in general. This led to a feeling of isolation and cultural disconnect,” explains Dhaliwal. “When speaking to a therapist, I often found myself expending more emotional labour trying to explain the complex dynamic of my culture in relation to my mental health struggles, and often did not find their advice applicable. Simple advice such as ‘communicating with your parents’ was hard for me to believe in.”

As the second-generation daughter of hard-working Punjabi-Sikh immigrants who escaped non secular genocide in India, Dhaliwal grew up in a tradition with a survivalist mentality of “keeping your head down and powering through your problems”, she shares. Opening up about her poor emotional well being to her household simply didn’t really feel like an possibility. “There is a phrase in Punjabi referred to as ‘izzat’, which suggests honour. Staying silent is seen as honourable due to the survival mentality that has manifested in our group. Talking about your issues is self-indulgence.”

It’s complicated stigmas like these that encourage Dhaliwal to talk out in the present day, particularly in order that younger racialized ladies like her “can see that there is someone who looks like them who went through this and came out the other side stronger.”

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