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  1. ITV Report

Groups fight to promote mental wellbeing in black communities

  • Click below to watch a video by ITV News Anglia's Kevin Ashford

It's thought that one in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives, but this proportion is actually higher among the black community.

Black people are among the worst affected minority groups, for a complex set of reasons. One is that mental health issues are often stigmatised in black communities, and people struggle to get the help they need. There is also mounting evidence that racism can lead to mental illnesses such as depression.

Thankfully, community members are fighting to dispel myths surrounding mental illness. They are also encouraging people to open up about their problems.

A group specialising in providing health support for minorities helped Nestfield Lopez six years ago. Mr Lopez experienced suicidal thoughts. He struggled to get help, particularly from his own Caribbean community.

Nestfield Lopez Credit: ITV Anglia

"I would just could cope with it, I didn't have anybody to speak to. In our community showing that sign of mental strain or mental vulnerability, it is seen as a weakness. I remember leaving work saying I was going to end it that day."

– Nestfield Lopez

Figures suggest black women face similar problems. According to a government survey, almost one third of black women reported experiencing a mental disorder. In comparison, one in five white women and one in four Asian women disclosed the same problem.

Marvina Newton, of Nigerian heritage, has had mental health problems for most of her life.

Marina Newton Credit: ITV Anglia

"With my eating disorder, I always used to say I was a 'bad anorexic' and so bulimia was the way out. Being black and having an eating disorder...people just couldn't think that happened, so you go on in life undiagnosed because you learn to put on different faces."

– Marvina Newton

Experts, like counsellor Dr Delroy Hall, say early intervention into mental health issues is crucial.

Dr Delroy Hall talks to Nestfield Lopez Credit: ITV Anglia

"The big thing is about the education, that mental illness is not a sign of weakness. It's not, in our culture or other cultures, spirit possession. You don't need to be demonised. Actually, this person is struggling with living, so can we just make life a little bit easier...take some of the pressure off."

– Dr Delroy Hall, Counsellor

Mental health charity Mind provide tips for improved mental wellbeing among all races, such as:

  • Building positive relationships (e.g. make time for the people you love, join a social group, use peer support such as Mind's Elefriend's community)
  • Taking time for yourself (e.g. try mindfulness, learn a new skill, try relaxation techniques)
  • Keeping a mood diary (track your mood using your own diary or with online tools such as moodpanda.com or moodscope.com)
  • Looking after your physical health (e.g. take up exercise, explore how what you eat affects you, make sure you get the right amount of sleep)
  • Setting yourself a challenge (e.g. take up a hobby, join a class, try a new recipe)

For further tips and information about mental health, visit www.mind.org.uk.