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Forget the label - just listen! Campaign launches to address mental health in African and Caribbean communities

by Sarah Graham
Friday 10 October 2014
133 3190

A new campaign launches today, on World Mental Health Day 2014, to address the stigma around mental health in African and Caribbean communities in Birmingham and Lambeth, south London.

'Forget the label - just listen!' is the latest campaign from project Time To Change, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, to challenge the stigma around mental health.

According to Time To Change, "over 90% of people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities with experience of mental health problems face discrimination as a result of their experience."

Over 90% of people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities with experience of mental health problems face discrimination as a result of their experience.

The multimedia campaign will combine traditional advertising with social media and live events, where members of the local community can meet campaigners and hear about their experiences.

In South London, the campaign is being run in partnership with Lambeth council and is supported by internationally acclaimed poet and spoken word artist Jean Binta-Breeze, who will perform at tonight's launch event in Lambeth town hall from 7.15pm.

Ms Binta-Breeze told Time To Change: "Being a user of mental health services, I am very aware of the issues and the stigma attached around mental health and the over-diagnosis of African and Caribbean communities. It was the support of my family and community - particularly my mother - that has helped me to develop into the person I am now.

Issues of stigma, discrimination and racism [contribute] to mental health.

RSCPP therapist Joanne Collins operates in the borough of Lambeth and was delighted to hear of a campaign specifically targeting the needs of African and Caribbean people living with mental illnesses in her area.

Therapist: Registered Psychotherapist Joanne Collins
As a psychotherapist who has worked in the field of mental health for over 15 years, I think it's important to have campaigns that target BME communities. This is because of the contributing factors that issues of stigma, discrimination and racism have on someone's mental health. My experience during training and work is that mental health workers are often trained to work with the generic population, so do not automatically have the skills needed to appropriately engage with the complexity of difference as part of the 'lived' human experience. I have had clients who were black, gay, disabled, and commented on how important it is to have a therapist who can help them think about different areas of their lives. Specialist services, if set up and delivered in a holistic manner, can help clients aim higher, beyond merely 'managing' the effects of disadvantage, to achieving their full potential.
Registered Psychotherapist Joanne Collins


Find out more

To find out more about the campaign, visit Forget the label - just listen! on the Time To Change website.

Finding support

If you are concerned about the issues raised in this article then you may like to read about finding the right therapist for you. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

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Updated 24 November 2014