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Published 16th Feb 2017

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One in four people from BAME communities who struggle with their mental health keep it to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand.

Of the people we surveyed from BAME communities who said they struggled with their mental health:
• 1 in 4 (24%) keep it to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand
• 1 in 2 (50%) don’t speak about it because they wouldn’t want to burden someone with their problems
• In comparison, 84% said that they feel good about themselves when they are there for people they care about
Research out today from the mental health charity Mind¹ has found that one in four Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) people who have struggled with their mental health keep it to themselves because they don’t know anyone that would understand (24%).

One in two (50%) of the people Mind talked to admitted that they didn’t open up about their mental health problems because they didn’t want to burden someone with their problems. On the other hand, over 80 per cent (84%) of the people that we surveyed said that they feel good about themselves when they are there for people they care about.

Peer support groups offer a space to share experiences of mental health problems. For the last two years, Mind has been working with Bipolar UK and piloted peer support projects funded by Big Lottery. This programme has been exploring the benefits of peer support, which is support given and received on an equal basis by people who share something in common, for people with mental health problems.

One such example of peer support in action is Halo’s Big Sisters Project. Halo works with and supports victims of honour based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, who have suffered psychological and emotional abuse, which has left a profound effect on their mental health and physical well-being. ‘The Big Sisters Project’ run regular coffee mornings which are extremely therapeutic for the women. The sessions provide a comfortable and safe environment to talk to others that understand and share their experiences. The support from peers has given the women the confidence and opened opportunities to access other groups and activities in the area which have helped them feel part of the community.

Yasmin Khan, Director of Halo, commented, “The Big Sisters Project has demonstrated effective community engagement in a trusted community project, which has broken down barriers and achieved a greater understanding of MIND services which are available. This demonstrates the value of specialist providers reaching out to minority groups, especially to those who are extremely vulnerable, such as victims of cultural, harmful practices”.

The Mind charity has also launched an online resource called ‘Making sense of peer support’ (available online at mind.org.uk/peersupportinfo) which includes advice on where to find local peer support groups. Mind also has an online support community, Elefriends (https://www.elefriends.org.uk/), which offers a platform for participants that can share and talk about feelings.

Paul Christon, Service Manager, Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, said: “Sharing a problem with someone who has been through the same thing can help lighten the load. This is particularly true when you experience a mental health problem, which is why we’re interested to explore the power of peer support. Peer support provides a fantastic opportunity to use difficult experiences as an asset to support and be supported by other people who have experienced mental health problems. Through the local hubs championing peer support programmes we hope to empower local services to offer peer support, gather evidence for its benefits and share best practice.”

¹ Polling was conducted by Populus who interviewed a nationally representative sample of 511 UK adults from BAME communities between 9 and 13 December 2016. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk



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