Meet Hamza Shaikh: Our 125th MHFAider

Birmingham born and bred; Hamza is a passionate member of the Deaf community. He has worked with Deaf organisations to get the best access possible for Deaf children nationally and internationally. Previously, Hamza has taught English, mathematics and IT to deaf and disabled children, and provided translation and proofreading services for the Deaf community. He enjoys travelling to new places, learning about history, culture, and language, taking photos and videos, socialising within the Deaf community, theatre and watching programmes on BSL Zone. Hamza is now a self-employed language tutor.

We caught up with Hamza to understand more about his background and what drew him to want to become a Mental Health First Aider. Hamza completed the Youth Mental Health First Aid training in April and has subsequently booked to complete the Adult MHFA training in May 2021.

What made you want to complete the MHFA training, and was there any particular reason you chose Connect Mental Health?

I’ve had my own experiences of mental ill-health, starting from school level right up to a couple of years ago, including the death of my mum. As a member of the Deaf community, I came across several different barriers which prevented me from accessing the support that I needed.

I felt that the government had failed in their duty to care about people. We need to have deaf psychologists and counsellors because we need that. Deaf people need that support. It’s not only sign language.

You can read more about Hamza’s personal experiences here:

I want to be that person who can help and champion for change in the mental health deaf community. I was inspired by Hasina Khanum and Rebecca Ann Rose Hood, two friends who meant a lot to me in my life. I specifically chose Connect Mental Health because of the excellent reviews. They won my heart. I was like:

That’s it! I am going to join a mental health course.

What was your biggest takeaway from the course, or what’s the one thing you’ll remember?

After taking part in the MHFA course with Lauren and Susan on Zoom, the one thing I’ll remember is the Mental Health First Aid action plan. It is such a lifesaver! I’ll be making sure I use it a lot and make sure that I am asking the right questions to the people who need help with mental health.

How would you rate your overall experience of the course?

10/10! The instructors were excellent, very professional, and very caring. They worked so hard to ensure that I was being listened to on Zoom. And the amazing thing about Connect Mental Health is that it provided me with the accessibility I needed so I was able to access the course through British Sign Language Interpreters. Hats off to the whole team!

Have you completed any other training courses recently, and if so, how does this one compare?

I’ve been searching for training courses for many years, but never had the opportunity, or confidence, to join, so I left it for a while. Then, during the coronavirus lockdown, I realised a lot about the purpose of life and heard the stories from the Deaf community. It made me think: