Nadiya Hussain Speaks Out about Mental Health and Life After Bake Off


Phoebe Walker, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

Nadiya Hussain talks to Hannah MacInnes at Wimbledon BookFest about fame after Bake Off, her latest book Finding My Voice and her new role as an ambassador for mental health awareness.

Nadiya Hussain may have captured the nation’s hearts back in 2015 after winning the Great British Bake Off, but since then she has proven time and time again exactly why she is the perfect role model to have on our screens.

After numerous successes with cookbooks and TV shows celebrating her love for all things ‘baking’, Nadiya decided to show a more real and personal side of herself earlier this year in the form of an anxiety documentary with the BBC. “I’ve never felt so vulnerable. I couldn’t hide behind food anymore.” She says to the audience. The documentary received such a rewarding response from fans that Nadiya felt compelled to share more of her story, sparking the idea for her new book.

Finding My Voice is a memoir in which Nadiya describes her childhood and early life before fame. She doesn’t shy away from the most personal details of her battle with her mental health, more specifically her panic disorder, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and postnatal depression after the birth of her first child.

Nadiya explains that she never truly felt like she belonged. “I used to think, I'm not a good enough Brit, I’m not a good enough Bangladeshi.” And now being part of an industry that is dominated by middle-aged Caucasian men, she is determined to make her mark and not be overlooked. “I was told I did not belong in this industry, finally I am speaking out and saying yes I do.”

She is also very open about her relationship with her parents; how she rebelled against her strict upbringing and even now has to speak out when she feels suppressed. “As kids we were loved and looked after but treated differently to my brothers”, she explains.

Nadiya is quick to laugh off any injustice she felt as a young girl being raised in a traditional Muslim household, and it’s clear to see just how much this encouraged her to become the stubborn go-getter she is today. However, as an audience you can't help but feel outraged for her as she describes how her, and her sisters were put hard at work in the kitchen whilst her brothers were celebrated and treated.

Having already been subject to numerous accounts of racial abuse, it’s inspiring that despite this Nadiya is using her platform to speak out about such sensitive subjects and her struggles as a young Muslim woman living in Britain. “If I don’t speak out i’m part of the problem, not the solution”, she states.

As a young girl she would wander around Waterstones looking for a character or story that she could relate to. “This is the book I was looking for”, she closes with.