We're pleased to share the findings from our recent peer research project on mental health in ethnically minoritised communities. Our peer research project was commissioned by Newcastle Healthy Futures. Connected Voice Haref coordinated the project while Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead provided peer research training. Four organisations (Rainbow Home. First Step, Riverside Community Health Project, West End Friends) provided members of staff and peer researchers to design and implement the research. This project was started after almost a year of living with the pandemic. Although the overall research does not focus specifically on the pandemic’s effects on mental health, COVID-19 has had a significant impact, and its presence is notable in some questions and in the results.
The peer research team was involved in all aspects of the project, from designing questions, developing methods, collecting responses, and analysing the data. The team decided to focus on: ‘Experiences and thoughts of mental health’ as the overall theme of the research along with questions related to:
- Perception and knowledge of services
- Recommendations on improving services
- The majority of interview participants said they did not know where to access a mental health service
- Under one quarter of participants have used a mental health service
- Of those who had not accessed mental health services, 50% felt they would be able to, 10% said they would not be able to and 40% said they didn't know
- 14% of survey participants felt that services were not culturally aware and 32% were leaning towards services not being culturally aware
- 16% of survey participants said they would not speak to anyone about their mental health.
- Most participants stated that lockdown negatively impacted their mental health and their emotions
The impact of COVID-19
The timing of this research was very important as COVID-19 had significant impacts on the mental health of people in the UK, but especially those from ethnically minoritised communities.
- At the beginning of 2021, the death rate for Black and Asian people in the UK was three to four times higher than the death rate of white people.
- During the pandemic, people from ethnically minoritised communities were hit harder financially, more likely to lose their jobs, more likely to identify housing as impacting their mental health, more likely to have their overall healthcare affected, and experience greater mental distress.
- Mental distress in the UK increased for all women and men from ethnically minoritised communities when compared to white British men.
Our peer research group had many ideas for their research, based on their knowledge and interactions with community members. The group felt it was important to look at:
- People’s awareness of mental health and mental health services.
- The stigma about mental health.
- The cultural awareness of mental health services.
- The impact of lockdown.
Some of these topics have been explored in previous research but not specifically in Newcastle. Stigma, awareness of mental health and mental health services, as well as the perception of these services, can impact whether or not help is sought out, and delaying help-seeking can lead to more severe presentation of mental health symptoms.
What did we do?
The research team used a mix of surveys and interviews to explore these topics by asking community members, colleagues, friends and family from ethnically minoritised communities to answer questions about mental health. The peer researchers developed the questions, created the surveys, analysed the data and contributed to writing the report.
We received 117 completed surveys and 13 more in depth interviews, over a period of six weeks