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Akram: Representation within the care team matters to young Black men who have experienced mental health crisis. One of our young men, J said, “Imagine I was going to the A&E and I say my head is going. I need to talk to someone, and they don’t have any staff that look like me. Sat me down in a room with a white woman from a totally different world, and she asked me to tell her what’s going on. So, I tell her, she doesn’t understand me. Because we’re really different. I’m saying maybe you should get some more practitioners trained up so that when people like me get up and go to the A&E, they’re not going to be misunderstood.”
Saf: Young people understand that staff will not always reflect the patients they support because representation in the crisis services workforce is not a quick fix. Interventions such as cultural sensitivity training can help improve interaction between crisis workers and young Black men.
Akram: However, another young man, S, followed up by saying, “I’ve seen that so many times. But how much training can someone get to understand experience, like you can know the information from a book or whatever, but it’s not the same as living that life, if you get me.”
Saf: What we’re hearing from young Black men we speak to is that they do want to access crisis support, and they do want to get better, but they need practitioners who reflect or acknowledge their lived experience and cultural sensitivity training should be led by young people.
[END OF VIDEO]
We’ve heard from the young Black men that we consulted that they want to access crisis support. We explored some of the reasons why they might not reach out in our Barriers to Access Guide earlier. All of the young men we spoke to said they would benefit from changes in the workforce, service design and service delivery, particularly around representation and cultural competence.
In the Barriers to Access guide, we mentioned that lack of role models, people with lived experience who had positive experiences in crisis services, is a barrier to young men accessing support for their mental health.
Young Black men told us that representation within the care team can increase their willingness to access crisis services. This is because it increases their confidence in the practitioners’ ability to relate to their lived experience or be familiar with the cultural and political issues which are barriers to access.
Young people understand that practitioners will not always have the same lived experience as them and that interventions such as cultural sensitivity training can help improve staff interactions between crisis workers and young Black men. However, this should not be seen as the solution to the challenges of representation within the workforce. A more diverse workforce that reflects the population of young people accessing support will help us feel confident and safer when reaching out.
What is cultural competence training?
You may have heard the term ‘cultural competence training’ but might be unsure of what it is. We have provided some information below from the Health Education England website to provide clarity.
Cultural competence e-learning
‘The purpose of the [training] tool is to support clinicians in the NHS to gain knowledge and understanding of the issues around culture and health; and how this might influence health care outcomes. Being Culturally Competent is not only about respecting and appreciating the cultural contexts of patients’ lives.’ – (Health Education England, 2022)
‘This training session enables participants to connect with and deliver effective services to people across majority and minority communities. It is a learning programme with activities and discussion, a safe space to ask questions and listen to real-life examples about how improved cultural knowledge has been used to break down barriers to access and improve services.’ – (Haref, 2022)
A young person we spoke to asked
“..how much training can someone get to understand experience? Like, you can know the information from a book or whatever, but it’s not the same as living that life, if you get me?”
This highlights the importance of lived experience, meaning that services should aim to involve and hear from young Black men with lived experience in training design and when possible, services should raise the voices of people with lived experience, even those within your team (Changing Lives, 2020).
Familiarise yourself with your organisation’s plans to increase diversity in the workforce (in your team). For example, the NHS People’s Plan and NHS Employers commissioned Nuffield Trust’s research report on Attracting, supporting and retaining a diverse NHS workforce (Nuffield Trust, 2021) and ensure that the cultural competence training you attend/complete includes the voices of young, marginalised groups which you support in your service.
- Health Education England (2022) Cultural Competence (e-learning), Available: www.e-lfh.org.uk, (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)
- Haref (2022) Cultural Competence Training, Available: www.connectedvoice.org.uk, (Retrieved 22nd February 2022)
- Changing Lives (2020) Raising the Voices of People with Lived Experience , Available: www.changing-lives.org.uk, (Retrieved 23rd February 2022)
- Nuffield Trust, (2021) Attracting, supporting and retaining a diverse NHS workforce, Available: www.nhsemployers.org, (Retrieved 23rd February 2022)