“It’s great to have an opinion but you need to know what perspective you're giving… if you don’t come in with a really good backing, people will ignore you.”
Meet Lina. A 22 year old Australian-Indian Muslim passionate about mental health advocacy and engaging in cultural discourse. When she isn’t completing her degree in Literature and Politics, Lina is hosting the ‘The Westies Podcast’.
‘The Westies Podcast’ covers areas of multiculturalism, social justice issues and migrant identities, geographically focussed around Sydney’s West and you can listen to it on Spotify. This podcast isn’t Lina’s first project, as she hosted ‘Shut Up and Listen’ with the Sydney University Radio Group (SURG).
For Lina, ‘Shut Up and Listen’ was about, “Giving a voice and having a space for people of colour and black indigienous people of colour.
“From a personal perspective I did it because I wanted to find an outlet where, as an Australian-Indian Muslim woman, there’s an interesting intersection of identity. Our opinions and voices matter.”
Having faced her own personal challenges with speaking up about her mental health, Lina has become well versed with starting new conversations and engaging in social discussions.
For many of us, getting involved in social, cultural and political discourse can be difficult and intimidating at the best of times, however Lina shared some of her personal experiences. Firstly, do research and understand what you’re talking about, and secondly, the way in which you deliver your opinions is incredibly important.
Lina said, “What I feel with first and second generation migrants, is that you grow up with a lot of identities; where cultural, religious and sexual identities intersect… and often organisations or communities don’t hold spaces for all these identities.
“So, I wanted to create a space where all those identities would be accepted.”
As part of International Day of People with Disability, Lina shared her story on mental health and her identity as an Australian-Indian Muslim. Through a journey of balancing her spirituality and mental health, Lina voiced the importance of seeking professional help. You can read her story ‘How Lina separated mental health struggles from her 'worth' as a Muslim’ on ABC news and watch her video here.
“There is a psychological isolation that we do experience due to racism, and it needs to be talked about, but it gets pushed under the rug.” Lina said.
Lina hopes to coordinate a mental health workshop focussed on people of colour and BIPOC communities to tackle the cultural stigma around seeking mental health support.
In the meantime, Lina is continuing to work on ‘The Westies Podcast’, and encouraging discussions on multiculturalism, social justice issues and mental health.