Identifying the gaps

Young African-Caribbean men are more likely to experience mental health problems than their white counterparts. We’re working to change this.

The disproportionate representation of African-Caribbean men within psychiatric care and criminal justice have been widely reported. African-Caribbean boys are more likely to be excluded from school, to end up in care and to become involved in the criminal justice system. Yet they are less likely to be offered help for their mental health.

The reasons for this are widely debated, but are likely to include:

  • Institutional racism;
  • Stereotyping / misreading of diverse social cues by frontline professionals;
  • Generally higher levels of economic hardship experienced by African-Caribbean communities (there is a strong link between prolonged deprivation and higher prevalence rates of mental health problems);
  • Fear and suspicion among African-Caribbean communities about statutory services – particularly mental health services;
  • Lack of availability of culturally competent acceptable and services;
  • Higher levels of stigma and shame associated with mental health problems.

Watch our peer researcher Alex sharing a young person's perspective on race and mental health:

What is the Centre doing to change this?

We want to ensure that innovative ways of offering effective help for young black men’s wellbeing can be replicated across the country, even after individual projects have ended, to ensure a lasting and far-reaching impact.

We contributed to this goal, with funding from Comic Relief, by evaluating the effectiveness of the Up My Street programme.

Up My Street

The ‘Up My Street’ programme worked with young African-Caribbean men aged 15-25 to develop their mental wellbeing within the community. Our research focused on three projects running in Birmingham as part of the ‘Up My Street’ programme. 

The projects, based at First Class Legacy, the Birmingham Repertory and St Basil’s, aimed to build the resilience of the young men, increasing the extent to which they felt socially supported and able to problem-solve. 

In the longer term, the programme aimed to prevent future mental health crises through:

  • Opening up an earlier dialogue about resilience;
  • Empowering young men to recognise the early signs of mental ill-health; and
  • Co-designing culturally relevant and engaging schemes which promote resilience.

It also sought to build the capacity of wider peer, family and service providers’ networks to generate effective early help and responses.

We studied the programme to see how effective it is for young African-Caribbean men, whether it could be effective for other groups, and whether it successfully increases young African-Caribbean men’s resilience. Read the full results of our evaluation, published in July 2017, here. We want to promote the learning from this innovative project to help other local communities develop new approaches to promoting wellbeing and reducing longstanding inequalities.

Last updated 01/03/2019