Against the odds

5 July 2017

Evaluation of the Mind Birmingham Up My Street programme

Lorraine Khan, Geena Saini, Alex Augustine, Kyle Palmer, Mark Johnson and Rohan Donald
5 July 2017

How could young African Caribbean men’s resilience be improved? Why is it that as children, black boys’ mental health is no worse than that of white peers, but during adulthood they are far more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia or detained under the Mental Health Act?

Three Birmingham-based projects (the Up My Street programme) were commissioned by Mind to improve young black men’s resilience. Our evaluation sought to ascertain whether the programme was successful, and what elements were especially effective.

The evaluation was funded by Comic Relief and completed in partnership with peer researchers, to obtain an in-depth look at the challenges facing young African Caribbean men, and how their resilience can be enhanced in the face of these struggles.

The Up My Street projects reached out to young men with a range of relatable male role models and created culturally informed safe spaces. Young men had experiences of co-producing activities to strengthen their self-esteem, self-belief, personal development and skills.

The programme conveyed a positive picture of black history, heritage and culture. They built an atmosphere of brotherhood and unity among those involved. And they created opportunities for mentoring that enabled young men to broaden skills and help younger people in the community.

Against the Odds highlights that a number of the young men participating in Up My Street live in communities with fewer educational, economic or employment opportunities. Many experience the ‘wear and tear’ of everyday racism and discrimination. These may be key explanatory factors behind higher levels of diagnosed severe mental illness among black men. 

Centre for Mental Health is calling on the Government to establish a ‘concordat’ to bring together organisations that need to work with communities to address the stark inequalities in mental health that young black men face today. It recommends that local authorities, schools, health services, Police and Crime Commissioners, Jobcentres and other local bodies should pool resources to fund projects like Up My Street. And it says that all organisations seeking to improve young black men’s mental health need to invest time and effort to build trust and work ‘arm in arm’ with communities.

This video was written and directed by our peer researchers, to summarise the key themes of the evaluation.

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