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.

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 harnessed and replicated across the country, even after individual projects have ended, to ensure a lasting and far-reaching impact.

We’re doing this with funding from Comic Relief, by evaluating the effectiveness of the Up My Street programme.

Up My Street

The ‘Up My Street’ programme works with young African-Caribbean men aged 15-25 to develop their mental wellbeing within the community. Our research is focusing 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 aim to build the resilience of the young men, increasing the extent to which they feel socially supported and able to problem-solve.

Watch our peer researcher Alex working with First Class Legacy:

In the longer term, the programme aims 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 seeks to build the capacity of wider peer, family and service providers’ networks to generate effective early help and responses.

The Up My Street programme uses the ‘Streetherapy’ approach developed by The Integrate Movement, which actively reaches out to under-served groups in places where they feel comfortable. 

Here at Centre for Mental Health, we use evidence to highlight inequalities facing people with mental health problems, and share these findings with policymakers and practitioners to achieve better services and changed lives.

We’re researching 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. Later in 2017, we’ll publish our findings and share the learning to come from these innovative projects to help other local areas develop new approaches to promoting wellbeing and reducing longstanding inequalities.