Islington Council and the NHS have announced a new, innovative programme to help young Black men and boys with their mental health, promoting the creation of better futures and tackling inequality.
The Young Black Men and Mental Health programme will run for three years and will use a holistic approach through four strands to improve personal mental health and wellbeing, aspirations and life opportunities.
The four strands are:
- A training programme that will see barbers at four Islington barber shops equipped with the skills to recognise when a customer is struggling with their mental health and assist them with accessing appropriate support. This will see barbers trained as mental health ambassadors and enable them to act as catalysts for the improvement of mental wellbeing.
- The “Becoming a Man” programme will be delivered in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and will see three Islington secondary schools supporting young Black boys with their long-term mental wellbeing. This will be done through the allocation of a full-time trained counsellor to each school, delivering five sessions per week with groups of young people, alongside one-to-one support.
- The “Elevate Innovation Hub” will comprise “Elevate Innovation Key Workers” that will provide wrap-around support and community coaching for 16 to 25 year olds that are at risk of poor health outcomes, serious youth violence and exclusion from school.
- A cultural competency programme for partners that include police, GPs, social care workers and schools.
Islington Council’s Executive Member for Equalities, Culture and Inclusion, Cllr Roulin Khondoker, said:
“Our vision is for a more equal Islington, where everyone has the opportunity to start, live and age well, which is why mental health is so important to us.
“We know, though, that young Black men do not currently enjoy an equal opportunity to thrive, and are more likely to live in deprived neighbourhoods, be excluded from school, and be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. It’s so important that we act now to create a better, more equal future for young Black men, where they too can turn their dreams into a reality.
“The Young Black Men and Mental Health programme is key to achieving this. This holistic, pioneering programme, will help young Black men with the mental health challenges they face, and support them to create a better future.”
Councillor Jason Jackson, Islington Council ward councillor for Holloway, has been heavily involved in the programme. He added:
“Growing up as a young Black man in London is extremely challenging – it can often feel like the world is stacked against you.
“The young Black Men and Mental Health programme is designed to empower, guide and support young Black men and boys as they face these challenges. Through the programme, we’re taking on structural and institutional racism, to help shift the practices, assumptions, and perceptions that could be holding young Black men and boys back.”