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Your spotlight on health and social care services


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Feedback from BME communities helping to improve services


Healthwatch Suffolk was asked by their local Trust to find out what BME communities thought of mental health services. We ask them what happened next:

Over 770 local people shared their views with us and we also held a number of focus groups to understand people’s experiences in more detail.  What they had to tell us was really interesting.

What did people tell you?

The majority of people said that they found mental health a difficult issue to talk about. Nine in ten said it was not easy to find out information about local mental health services.

When it came to the services themselves, almost half of people from BME communities said that mental health services were not culturally sensitive. One in four people we spoke to said that they had been asked questions by mental health services that were not acceptable to their culture or faith.

We also found some significant differences when it came to who people felt able to talk to about mental health issues.

For example, while 75% of black British respondents felt that they could talk to their family and friends about their mental health issues, 60% of Bangladeshi respondents felt they could not.

Faith also played important role for certain communities. While only 10% of white British people said they would approach a faith leader to discuss mental health problems, 100% of people from an Asian British and Bangladeshi backgrounds told us that they would do this.

What happened as a result?

The mental health Trust welcomed our findings and has put in place a series of actions to improve its services, including adapting the way services are promoted to different communities.

We also produced a range of infographics and a short video to highlight what local people told us and to encourage others to share their views.

What is great is that the mental health Trust are also now using the video to train their staff and encourage discussions on cultural differences. This is part of a wider commitment by the Trust to carry out more training with staff to ensure services are culturally sensitive.

They are also running more local events to promote mental wellbeing and have organised seminars to promote mental health to faith leaders.

Some clear inequalities exist but it is encouraging that, because local people were prepared to share their experiences and the Trust was willing to act upon their view, things should start to improve

Read Healthwatch Suffolk’s full report.

If you’ve got feedback to share about mental health services in your area, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.