There’s no one size fits all when it comes to support services for under-represented communities

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Policy Officer at With You, Leesal Malhan, discusses how we can build our awareness, knowledge, and skills to improve treatment and care for under-represented racial and ethnic communities.

At With You, we know that people from under-represented racial and ethnic communities can face significant barriers when accessing support for mental health or drug use. The latest research into ethnic inequalities in healthcare suggests that many under-represented groups face clear barriers to seeking help for mental health problems, and are less likely to be referred by their GPs for IAPT or CBT. We also know that many under-represented racial and ethnic groups may face multiple degrees of stigma when accessing drug and alcohol services. This can be down to fear of being discriminated against in healthcare settings, cultural stigma, or language barriers.

It is vital to recognise and respond to the barriers that many under-represented racial and ethnic groups face when accessing our services. However, we understand that it is unhelpful to homogenise communities when thinking about how we better engage with them. Whilst commonalities exist, no two communities face the same challenges. We understand too that different barriers exist within the same community.

That’s why we don’t have a uniformed approach to how we engage with under-represented ethnic communities, there’s no standardised plan. Our approach is to make no assumptions and listen before responding. This means engaging with community leaders to understand their needs and identify what they want from our services, as well as raising awareness of the services that are available to them.

We spoke to service manager Annie Lynn, who has been putting this into practice in Liverpool. Liverpool has one of the largest and most diverse populations in the UK and is home to Britain’s oldest Black community, as well as the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Annie spoke of the ways that we have been educating staff on the multicultural history of the city. She also spoke of the ways in which we tailor outreach activities to reach under-represented racial and ethnic communities, including translating our pamphlets and disseminating them in community centres or places of worship. We are also looking to set up specialist clinic days with translators and representatives from under-represented communities.

Similarly, an important part of delivering culturally appropriate care is staying open to collaboration and engaging with existing organisations that are embedded in under-represented communities.

We spoke to Diane Burbidge, service development manager at Chinese Wellbeing, a charity that has been providing culturally appropriate, community-based services in and around Liverpool for over 30 years.

The programmes they offer are rooted in an understanding of the social and cultural needs of the Chinese community. For example, their Evergreen programme aims to reduce social isolation and encourage physical wellbeing — both deeply important to their older service users, many of whom don’t have family close by. Other care and support they provide around dementia includes sharing information and resources that tackle misconceptions and de-stigmatise dementia in the community.

Read the full blog post here.

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We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

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