At this point, Nadiya Hussain is a national treasure who must be protected at all costs. The 2015 Bake Off winner stole our hearts with her hilarious facial expressions, bubbly personality, and pure passion for all things food. Now she's bringing a more serious, personal story to our TV screens. In a new BBC documentary called Nadiya: Anxiety And Me, Nadiya Hussain is talking mental health.
Anxiety probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hussain. The mum of three is best known for her beautiful cooking/travel hybrid shows, like Nadiya's Asian Odyssey where she travels to the Asian countries uncovered in her DNA test, or Nadiya's British Food Adventure which highlights the best of British produce.
But unbeknown to fans of the 34-year-old cook and presenter, Hussain has actually been living with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks since childhood. Now in her hour long special, she wants to find out exactly what anxiety is, what treatments are available, and how it affects her and the nation's health. As part of her journey Hussain goes to cognitive behaviour therapy and uncovers some buried memories.
She also meets Barry McDonagh, who provides online therapy, and visits a school in Brighton to find out how they are addressing anxiety in the classroom. The documentary looks into groundbreaking research at Kings College London on how genetics and environment might play a part in anxiety disorders.
Hussain isn't alone in struggling with mental health. According to Anxiety UK, 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life. What Hussain is doing by starting a much-needed conversation around the issues in the UK is ground-breaking, especially as a muslim woman of colour.
By delving into her own mental health publicly on a national scale, she's helping to reduce the stigma some ethnic minority communities may face when it comes to mental health. Frustratingly, women of colour are almost always left out of the narrative around mental health, yet ethnic minorities are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems. Her visibility is truly inspirational to all, but especially for young women of colour who might feel isolated when it comes to mental health.
In sharing her story Hussain is really speaking to the demographics that need to hear about mental health the most. By promoting conversations around it, perhaps she in turn will help more people across the country get a diagnosis they might need all whilst making the topic that much less taboo.
As if the nation couldn't love her anymore, Hussain's move to normalise anxiety is both courageous and educational. She's more than just a wonderful cook, and an excellent TV personality, she's a human with struggles who's brave enough to speak out about them. And by doing so she's proved that nobody is alone in it and that talking about it will can help promote better mental health across the country.
Nadiya: Anxiety And Me airs 9 p.m.,Wednesday, May 15 on BBC One.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this piece, contact Anxiety UK by text on 07537 416 905 or call 03444 775 774.