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Top Tips

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Video transcript

Akram: Hi, my name is Akram. Member of Jet42.

Saf: And my name is Saf, member of Jet42. This section of the guide is called Top Tips. We have used the experience of young Black men to help us summarise some top tips that they feel are important for services and professionals to consider when supporting them in a mental health crisis.

Akram: When you first meet us, please don’t make assumptions based on how we dress, look and speak. There’s more to us than this.

Saf: Humour is a very common coping mechanism. If possible, try to maintain this as it might make it easier for us to open up. However, if this causes discomfort for the young person, you can stop and try another technique. Phrases and slang terms evolve frequently and can mean something different depending on area. Ask for clarification if there are any phrases used which might be vague or ambiguous. 

Akram: A young person might want their family around them for emotional support or care planning or if they lack capacity. Also depending on culture, families may be more involved or take the backseat in their loved one’s care. Explore ways to accommodate this.

Saf: If a young person needs an interpreter, try to find a professional interpreter within your service. Family members or friends might be able to speak better English than the young person, but that doesn’t mean you can ask them to interpret. Crisis support should not only be accessible in person, services should meet the young people where they are. Young Black men can sometimes speak to their role models within the community who are not mental health professionals. Crisis services should work with resources within the communities they serve to increase reach of their offer. Conclude the interaction with collaborative action planning. Asking them what they are going to do next and offer tailored suggestions and signposting. This will help to make the young person feel valued and involved in the action planning.

Akram: It’s also important for young Black men who do take the bold step of accessing crisis support services to be given the opportunity to shape the way the services delivers its work. A said, “Reflect on the positive things to do with crisis support services I have been part of, is being where people can come together to help one another and shape services. It helped me to understand that people of all walks of life have the same issues or challenges. Similar experiences, we can all benefit from services being delivered in flexible ways.”

Saf: Inclusion in service design makes young people feel valued, listened to, helps build trust and services and has a positive influence on the quality of service young Black men receive when accessing crisis services. Remember, one young Black man cannot speak for all young Black men in your service. 

Akram: When including young Black men in service design, constantly ruling us out to share our lived experiences without adequate support does more harm for our wellbeing and trusting services than good.



In this guide, we have summarised some top tips for you to keep in mind when supporting us in a crisis. These tips cover all the parts of our journey accessing crisis services; from when you meet us, we are at a point of potentially working to improve the service to when we are discharged.

Before we can access crisis services, crisis support should be accessible in person and remotely. Meet us where we are and where we feel most comfortable talking about our mental health.

When you see us in crisis services, support us to make sense of and navigate our mental health distress.

We recommend that you refer to our ‘How to Start the Conversation’ guide that provides practical steps to set the conversation up for success and make us feel comfortable with you in person, online and over the phone. 

We might want our family around for cultural reasons, emotional support, or care planning. Familiarise yourself with common practices in different cultures and plan how you or your service can accommodate this if we make the request. Remember, you can always ask us if you are unsure.

When we have been discharged from crisis services, we might still want to be involved in policymaking, service design and any improvement work by sharing our lived experience through co-production.

Here are some ways you can ensure we are included in service design (Common Room, 2021)

  • Go the extra mile and take the time to ensure there is diversity among your participants.
  • Think about what you can do to support Young People throughout their involvements
  • Acknowledge and respect young people’s involvements
  • Promote involvement opportunities in a way that reaches the right young peoples
  • Give young people choices.

You may have to think about how to better engage with our communities to ensure that you offer opportunities to those who aren’t usually heard or involved in service design. You can reach out to grassroots community projects in your area as a starting point. Remember that it takes time to build genuine trust and relationships, but we want to be involved. By making an effort to come to where we are and understand us, we will see that you want us to be involved.

Ask us what we will need to ensure that our experience with you is positive. Many of our experiences can be rooted in trauma, and you will need to acknowledge this and provide support when asking us to draw on our lived experience when designing services. Provide spaces to ‘decompress’ after design activities, and make sure that we are prepared for what will be covered in these sessions in advance.

You can provide alternative ways to get involved with service design and delivery beyond attending meetings or group work. For example, offer one-to-one sessions, online surveys and anonymous suggestion boxes. Having a working group (advisory group) of young people to help design these activities can help find new and helpful ways for other young people to get their voices heard.

Ensure that these activities are well planned and thought out before starting. How much power will we have to influence the service? Will we be paid for our time? What will the time commitment be? Be honest with us about what we can expect and how much impact our voice will have in the service in advance. 

Key Messages

  • Don’t make assumptions based on how we dress, look and speak. Believe what you are being told
  • Crisis services should work with resources within the communities they serve to increase reach of their offer.
  • Include young Black men in the development of services we access.


  • Lambeth Black Thrive & NHS South London and Maudsley Lambeth NHS Foundation Trust (2020) Young Black Men’s Mental Health & Wellbeing: A Co-production Project. Available: , (Retrieved 22nd February 2022) 
  • 42nd Street (2017) Perceptions: Peer research into the needs and perceptions of young black men on mental health and wellbeing, Available: (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (2012) Involving children and young people in health services, Available: (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)
  • Common Room (2021) How to manage research and participation projects: The ethics according to young people, Available: (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)
  • Adebiyi A, Ghezae F, Mustafa J (2021) Amplifying the voices of young people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds in mental health research. Available: , (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)