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Mind's work with young Black men

Black men are far more likely than others to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems. They're also more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

But until they're 11, Black boys don't have poorer mental health than other boys the same age.

There are lots of reasons for this. Including stigma, cultural barriers, and systemic discrimination. 

That’s why our work with young Black men focuses on prevention. We want to avoid people becoming so unwell they need to access services. We focus on building personal resilience, helping people to take care of their mental health and wellbeing.

On this page, you can read about the following projects we've run with Black men:

Young Black men programme

In March 2019, Mind launched a pilot programme working with young Black men. It lasted 3 years. The programme worked with 11 to 30 year olds, offering tailored local services for young Black men.

The aim of the programme was to:

  • Learn what works when it comes to supporting the mental health of young Black men
  • Address the barriers they face in receiving appropriate, timely support

A secondary aim was to co-produce a culturally sensitive evaluation approach by and for young Black men.

“It’s important for people to be able to share their racial experiences and to understand what being Black means. The Young Black Men Project really helped with that.”

How did the programme work?

The programme was guided by a group of 9 young Black men, who shared their insights and experience. It provided an opportunity for young Black men to be heard and to connect with others.

The services developed included:

  • Peer support to prevent mental health problems
  • Content to challenge stigma around mental health
  • Support to encourage young men to access help

We worked with 5 local Minds to deliver this programme:

  • Coventry and Warwickshire Mind
  • Lambeth and Southwark Mind
  • City, Hackney and Waltham Forest Mind
  • Mind in Haringey
  • Leeds Mind

The programme was funded by:

  • The Matrix Causes Fund
  • ServiceNow
  • Terra Firma
  • Internal investment

“I was given encouragement and vision that I was struggling with beforehand. I’m in a better place.”

Why did we develop the Young Black Men Programme?

Up until the age of 11, young Black boys don’t have worse mental health compared to other boys their age.

But as they grow up, young Black men are more likely to
be sectioned under the Mental Health Act compared to their White peers.

This highlights the need for culturally sensitive services. Services which focus on preventing mental health problems before they reach crisis point. 

“This programme has taught me how to listen to the stories of others and how to use my experiences to relate to the lives of people that feel they need the support.”

What did we learn from the Young Black Men Programme?

We collected:

  • Monitoring data before and after the service
  • Feedback about the service
  • Demographic information to understand who the service reached

We also held a learning session for service staff to share successes and challenges from delivering the programme.

There were improvements to the mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and social support of a small number of young men who took part in the evaluation. And  100% said they'd recommend the programme to friends or family. They told us:

  • Listening without judgement created a safe space to discuss racism and what it means to be a young Black man in the UK
  • The programme encouraged the young men to express themselves creatively as well as to connect with others with similar experiences
  • The programme helped the men to cope with the challenges they were experiencing

There were also a few challenges which affected the success of the programme:

  • We needed more time to involve young Black men in the programme design and delivery
  • The pandemic caused major disruptions to delivery and engagement
  • Using pre- and post-service mental health outcome measures to evaluate didn’t capture all the benefits people experienced from taking part

What did we learn for future services?

We learnt:

  • What good services and support look like for young Black men
  • That long-term funding is key to develop and sustain preventative services
  • Services should be set up so they can adapt to external challenges
  • It’s important to design, develop and deliver services together with young Black men

We also learnt that services should include the following things:

  • Listening without judgement
  • Support to address material needs, such as access to housing and employment
  • Practical ways to cope with challenging situations
  • Opportunities for creative expression
  • Flexible ways to take part, for example being able to access services in person or remotely
  • Avoiding framing services solely around mental health, for example including physical activities in the service

And when it comes to evaluating services, we learnt:

  • Evaluations should be designed by and for young Black men
  • We should work together with service staff when developing and implementing evaluations
  • To test the evaluation approach and adapt it if needed

Up My Street project

In 2016 Mind ran the Up My Street project, which supported young African Caribbean men aged 15 to 25. It helped them build their mental health resilience and talk to each other and their families.

We implemented a street therapy approach, going out to talk with young people on the street, or in a youth centre. This helped young people to get the support they needed in a flexible and informal way.

We worked with The Integrate Movement, the Centre for Mental Health and First Class Legacy.

Watch the video below to find out more about the project. The video shares the experiences of:

  • A staff member who worked on the Up My Street project
  • One of the young people who benefitted from it

300 Voices

300 Voices ran from 2013-2016, as a partnership between Time to Change and 3 Mental Health NHS Foundation Trusts.

This work focused on reducing the stigma and discrimination in mental health hospitals and the police.

It also looked at helping young Black men to take greater control of their mental health.

The project brought together:

  • Staff from a range of services
  • People with experiences of mental health problems
  • Community representatives

Together, they explored how to improve young Black men’s experience of mental health support.

Mind ambassador Nicholas Pinnock was also involved in the project.

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