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Experience of crisis support
Akram: Young Black men we spoke to said it’s important for practitioners to work with them to set expectations in their initial interaction. They also felt that in some instances, services could with their permission, involve friends and family in their treatment.
Saf: For many young Black men experiencing crisis, this will likely be their first ever interaction with crisis services, and these small interactions make a difference. A young person highlighting a particular positive experience said, “Having my family by my side with the staff knowing they were able to call on them every so often, to show them how my progress is going, and how the quality of work was, just helped me to feel like they were quite serious about me being part of their service, really.”
Stuart: I first accessed crisis services when I was much younger, about 14, 15. And at that point, I felt that the professionals were very supportive, welcoming and warm. Then I crossed a line, much like an invisible line. I think it’s different for everyone. For me, it was when I was 16, 17. Some health professionals stopped looking at me or engaging with me as a young person experiencing a mental health distress. But instead, they saw me as aggressive, non-compliant, or as a difficult patient. It felt equivalent to being told to man up and I had to go through this episode of difficult emotions on my own. It felt like I was expected to take more responsibility, to know more about my health and wellbeing, and to conduct myself in a certain manner which feeds societal expectations. I would like crisis services and professionals to know that for a young person like myself, crisis services are supposed to be safe places where we give patients respect and compassion. I would like my needs to be recognised as needs of a young person to receive the same support my peers who might not look like me get. Sometimes I felt forced into self-management by being seen as an adult. I think for some young people, this works out quite well. But for me, without a support network and without an effective care plan, being forced into self-management was setting me up to fail.
[END OF VIDEO]
For many young black men experiencing a crisis, this will likely be their first-ever interaction with crisis services and first impressions matter. We have summarised some of the small steps which can make a difference and make our experience as positive as possible.
During our interaction with you in crisis services, work with us to set expectations and, if possible, with our permission, involve friends and family in our treatment.
As we get older, the divide between our and other young people’s mental wellbeing becomes wider.
‘And up until 11 years old, Black children don’t have poorer mental health than others of their age.’ – (Mind, 2022)
Remember to treat us with kindness and take some of the cultural, political, and social issues we shared in the Barriers to Access guide as to why we might be struggling with our mental health.
We have included research that highlights the impact of these issues on young black men’s mental health.
Feel free to ask who we have supporting us with our mental health and make sure we are not prematurely forced into ‘self-management’ of our mental wellbeing. Forcing us into self-management without a support network or an effective care plan sets us up to fail.
Consider our other needs as well. You can make the young person feel supported and welcomed by offering them a drink or food.
Be flexible and accept that the young person you see might not conduct themselves in a manner that fits society’s expectations.
How we are communicated with verbally can also impact our experience.
Phrases such as:
- ‘Man up’
- Although you might not use the exact phrase ‘Man Up’, dismissing our concerns and feelings can feel like the equivalent of being told to ‘Man Up’
- ‘Everyone goes through it’
These phrases are not helpful and should be avoided.
We would like our needs to be recognised as the needs of a young person – to receive the same support our peers, who might not look like us, receive.
- Mind (2022) Young Black Men, Available: www.mind.org.uk (Retrieved 23rd February 2022)
- Omonira, R (2014) Black and dangerous? Listening to patients’ experiences of mental health services Why are black people with mental health problems still more likely than whites to be heavily medicated, restrained and detained against their will?, Available: www.jstor.org, (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: manchestercommunitycentral.org, (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)