Last night the Re: series Third Culture Minds, hosted by Guled Mire, won the Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand’s Special Media Journalism Award. We spoke to Guled about what it means to him.
Third Culture Minds is a series exploring the mental health experiences of young New Zealanders of migrant and refugee backgrounds.
How do you feel?
I feel great. It's a recognition for beyond just me and the series’ creators, it's a recognition that third culture kids exist and their experiences are starting to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Do you feel like you were represented in mental health conversations before?
Absolutely not. I still don't think we can turn around and say that now through this series there's an entire generation of communities that are represented.
I’m a very visible person - I’m Black, I’m Muslim, I stand out. But yet I've never felt so invisible than with the conversation around mental health in Aotearoa.
I feel like that conversation is now just starting to branch out, to Māori, to Pasifika, to Asian communities, to now us.
So I can't say that I feel visible now when it comes to mental health but I do feel like we have added value by bringing some lived experiences, and including perspectives that have often been excluded.
Watch: A Muslim journalist on the mental health impact of reporting on Islamophobia
Award-winning journalist and poet Mohamed Hassan talks with Guled Mire about reporting on Islamophobia, the importance of media representation, and the toll that covering the March 15th terrorist attack had on his mental health.
“We spend so much time, especially as Muslims, watching ourselves in the media without actually speaking, without being asked what we think or what our perspective is.”
What does it mean to you to steer the mental health conversation towards refugee and migrant communities?
So it's really important that this becomes the start of many more stories to be told in that space.
That's a really important part of making sure that young people are able to develop positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
How did people respond to the series?
People wrote from all over the world, London, the US, Canada.
People have grappled with identity around the world, on what it means to be a third culture kid. So a lot of the responses we had were people talking about their experiences, talking about being from mixed ethnicity, or being raised in the diaspora, and how the series normalised the mental health conversation for them.
That was incredibly uplifting to hear.
One of the first responses that came in, I didn't expect it to be so soon - it was the morning we launched it, it was like 8am and I had this message from someone saying they had just watched the series, and that they had struggled with their own identity growing up, and that it made them feel seen. I really didn't expect it, that touched me because it was very early on.
Watch: Black New Zealanders on how hip hop finally gave them a place to belong.
In this episode Guled Mire joins fellow Black New Zealanders and hip hop artists Mazbou Q, JessB and Mo Muse to talk about how their art, race and mental health intersect, whether that's not wanting to burden your refugee parents with your mental health experiences, or trying to find acceptance in Kiwi culture through playing netball, which as JessB says, "for a girl is one of the most Kiwi things you can do."
“When I was growing up in primary school, they weren’t used to the African face or the African features. The only people I saw who looked like me or who I felt I could relate to were the Black Americans on TV,” says Auckland-based rapper Mazbou Q.
You created the series along with director Ahmed Osman and producers Adorate Mizero, Veena Patel and Aleyna Martinez. What did it mean to you to make the series with creatives from the communities involved?
I think that was the most empowering part of this whole process, that we were able to work with Re: to help create and shape the narrative of our own experiences, told through our own lens. That's really powerful and can’t be underestimated.
For too long we've had our stories told for us, we've had our experiences whitewashed and that’s been quite damaging for us because it portrays a distorted reality.
To have a crew working on this who look like, and speak like the individuals whose stories we are telling is really powerful.
For me it was special to be given the opportunity to do that. I have a responsibility to use the platform afforded to me to be able to lift others in my community and bring them up.
Watch: For former refugees, trauma doesn’t stay in the past.
“As I got older I was exposed to more and more of my story. It started off with, 'yes son, we have come from Afghanistan, but we’re here now, look at our life!'”
“But then it was, this is why we had to leave, or this is what happened, or we had a rocket-propelled grenade enter our house and almost explode while we were all sitting there. You can't say that to a four-year-old child, because for them to be able to deal with that emotionally, to be able to understand the implications of that is just so severe.”
Has the series made you think differently about your own mental health?
Yes it has. It’s also made me realise the scale of the challenge we're dealing with, and the need to break down the stigma.
It’s made me think about the mental health impact of racism and discrimination - people often overlook that. Racism is something that's talked about when something horrific happens, but it's the everyday experiences that third culture kids go through that impacts people's wellbeing.
Our experiences as third culture kids are not homogenous. We all have diverse experiences, even though there's a unique set of characteristics that we have in common.
What is the power in telling your story?
Storytelling is a good way of helping people cope with the struggles they are experiencing, so others know that what they are going through isn’t unique to just them.
So it’s really important that the stories we are telling are diverse.
I’ve been able to face head-on some of those more tricky challenges that I've been navigating. Through the series I had to be vulnerable and frame things through my own life experiences, so I was opening myself up to the rest of society in a way I hadn't done before.
That was part of the healing process as well, it gave me a sense of comfort. And it gave me hope for the future, speaking to some of the young people, it gave me faith and hope that there are some good things happening in the future.