HEARING OUR NEEDS 2020-2023
A GROUNDBREAKING REPORT FOR NORTHERN IRELAND WHICH EXPLORES THE MENTAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING NEEDS OF ITS B.A.M.E COMMUNITIES
L-R: Mac McBride, Angela Martin, Queen's University Belfast Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stuart Elborne, Lekan Ojo-Okiji Abasi, HE Dame Fionnuala J. O'Boyle HM Lord Lieutenant of the Co Borough Belfast, Saleem Tareem, Dr M. Satish Kumar, John Boddu, Dr Linda Agnew, and Dr Daniel Gboloo Teye
Empowering the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities of Northern Ireland together
Hearing Our Needs is a project initiated by Counselling All Nations Services (CANS) which sought to further understand the mental health and emotional wellbeing needs of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities across Northern Ireland. Comprising of seven workshops held across Northern Ireland - the research team invited participants from a range of backgrounds including emergency services, counsellors, community leaders, academics, union representatives, politicians and others to join the conversation and make their voices heard. These workshops were held chronologically in Dungannon, Derry-Londonderry, Coleraine, Belfast, Bangor, Enniskillen, and Newry and were attended enthusiastically. Participants voiced issues with regards to adequate training and skilled worker retention, ‘ring-fenced’ and sustainable funding streams, accessibility to pathways to healing (including self- referral), cultural competence and sensitivity to cultural issues, communication barriers between the public sectors and community level workers, the need for centralised regulation, and more efficient signposting, urban and rural differences in BAME mental health needs, data access and data sharing, and co-design and co-production of strategic documents relevant to [BAME] Mental Health in Northern Ireland.
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This theme primarily engaged attendee contributions related to communication issues between organisations, crisis intervention, public compassion and education, the stigmatisation of BAME mental health, self-help awareness and practices, effective first points of contact for BAME communities, resource provisions for BAME workers, approaching the concept of cultural competency, language and cultural barriers; and available research and distributable literature.
Securing Service Provision
This theme explores sustainable funding streams for service providers, Brexit and service adaptations, resilience, political and economic priorities, reformed cultural and mental health strategies, and datasets.
This research theme places heavy emphasis on local knowledge and the enhancement of local services available in Northern Ireland. This section also examines new emerging digital spaces that can be utilised for mental health interventions and accessing help
(Co)production and Networking
The need to begin shared dialogues and narratives on BAME mental health needs and challenges. It discusses the creation of intercultural groups and a centralised regulatory platform for service providers, BAME inclusive production of legislation and strategies, revised training practices, self-referral systems, diverse stakeholder groups, and the development of safe spaces for expression and intervention.
The research team presented 12 recommendations deduced from the aforementioned 4 key research themes. The recommendations placed great emphasis on factors such as increased and empowered decision-making, greater flexibility of service and more training opportunities, highly networked stakeholders, the provision of key resources namely bi-lingual counsellors, better signposting and literature, and more flexible long-term and ring-fenced funding opportunities
and provisions for project work and collaboration. Without funding, without assistance, without guidance - invaluable grassroots organisations and service providers face increasingly unsustainable pressures and instability especially in the changing post-Brexit landscape. This directly affects the health and wellbeing of those employed and the communities under their care through the loss of jobs and shared assets which to some might be the only help they receive.