CABS Public Seminar Series 2021-22: Building resilience in the BAME communities to improve their mental wellbeing
This joint virtual panel discussion between members from the Royal College of Nursing Ethnic Minorities Sub-group (RCN-EMS) and The Open University’s Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS) was chaired by (Dr Helena Ann Mitchell [Chair RCN-EMS/CABS], and Dr Verina Waights (CABS Co-research Lead).
The focus of the discussion was to explore the statement “Challenges such as racism, stigma and inequalities can affect the mental health of people from BAME communities.” [Mental Health Foundation]. The aim of the discussion was to highlight positive practices that practitioners and people who use services and their families to improve mental health wellbeing in their communities.
The panel members consisted of Kojo Appau-Bonsu (Peer involvement worker); Zeba Arif (President, All Pakistan Nurses Association, APNA-UK and RCN Diversity Champion); Janet Idowu (Clinical Service Lead Acute Services); Professor Ben Thomas (Professor of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities).
The panel members gave thought-provoking and powerful responses to a variety of questions. This heartfelt conversation drew on their personal experiences and current research about the inequalities, racism and marginalisation meted out to them and other BAME service users and health care staff within the NHS. Although they have witnessed some changes in practice, these issues continue to be problematic. Whilst the focus was on the NHS, we are all aware they occur in other health and social care related environments.
The panel provided several solutions and a range of strategies for consideration and stressed that these should not just be tokenistic. Trusts should be providing care that is nonprescriptive and addresses specific cultural needs of marginalised groups with mental health problems using elements of co-production and co-design. Better access to services for other groups such as LGBT communities was another key feature discussed.
The issues for BAME staff were also discussed by panel members. They highlighted the lack of representation of ethnic minority staff in senior management structures, and the need to prepare staff to take on these roles, for example by encouraging staff to apply for leadership courses. When staff acquire these positions, mentorship support as well as coaching are required to ensure success in these positions. Improving the recruitment to more senior positions by using diverse ethnic minority panels was another suggestion.
To conclude, the panel is promoting the importance of ongoing collaborative working between people from all ethnic communities, majorities and minorities, to bring about a real shift in understanding and delivering care that meets the needs of those living in a diverse society. This includes enhancing the pre-registration nursing curriculum to include culturally sensitive care.
- CABS Research Group