BME Mental Health
The project aims
The aim of this project (now funded by the new Plymouth Community healthcare CIC, previously Plymouth NHS PCT) is to improve the mental health and well being of BME individuals and communities living in Plymouth.
Research has shown that Black and Minority Ethnic people often find it difficult to use health services when they have a mental health problem. Many BME people do not believe that Western/British mental health services can offer positive help. To help solve these difficulties, community development workers have been employed.
Health Information and Advice
The team also provide information and advice about general health. Many participants from the groups and individual cases need help to access basic health services, in particular dentists, doctors, breast awareness and cervical cancer sessions; the public health nurses have come to groups to give information on healthy eating, diet and exercise. Training on specific issues such as sexual health, contraception and avoiding unwanted pregnancies have all been provided this year. We also offered a free art drop in for BME individuals.
Support and Advocacy
A large part of this work is taken up by one to one support and advocacy casework with BME individuals who are experiencing a range of problems and difficulties. These can include direct and indirect discrimination, racial abuse or assault, domestic abuse, barriers to accessing health or education services, child protection, loneliness and isolation, lack of self esteem, and few family networks. Because of the complexity of these cases we work in partnership with a range of organisations, for example Health, Police, Social Services, Domestic Abuse, Plymouth City Council and numerous voluntary agencies such as Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support, Stepping into Nature, and Plymouth Museum.
The workers have facilitated the setting up and support of several groups, including Women of Racial Trust and Harmony, Muslim Women's Group, and Women free from Fear. Issues include domestic abuse, problems accessing services and depression.
The team referred some members to "Mindfulness" sessions, to alleviate depression and mental health problems. Women attending this group are encouraged to facilitate different activities such as arts and crafts to increase their self esteem and skills base.
To develop the group, awareness sessions have been provided, enabling them to disseminate the information to women in their own communities and signpost women in need of support to relevant agencies
Other groups that the team have supported include Zimbabwean women's group, The Greek school, Piety (Islamic Centre) and The Fijian community. The workers have also continued to be partners in the Domestic Abuse Strategy Group to ensure that culturally appropriate services for BME communities.