LONDON: Two British charities have teamed up to combat a mental health crisis among minority communities in the UK, with a particular focus on struggling young men.
British South Asian and Black young men are more likely to struggle with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, but significantly less likely to seek help than their counterparts in other ethnic groups.
Two British charities have now teamed up to help tackle this crisis. They said it began long before the pandemic but COVID-19 has exacerbated it and highlights the importance of mental health care for those affected by it.
Manchester-based charity Human Appeal, which works in Africa, the Middle East and the UK to provide potentially life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need, is collaborating with Bradford charity Breaking The Silence to provide desperately needed, culturally sensitive mental health care for South Asian men in the UK — a significant proportion of whom are Muslim.
Breaking The Silence was founded in 2012 by psychotherapist Imran Manzoor in response to a clear rise in mental health cases among South Asian boys and young men. His organization now provides support for more than 600 men and boys across the UK, including one-on-one counseling sessions and group therapy programs.
“Men from ethnic-minority communities come to the attention of professional mental health services on average 13 years later, and in a more severely ill state, than their white counterparts,” Manzoor said.
“While the masculine maxim of ‘strength in silence’ plays an important role in their reluctance to get help, it is also the cultural-specific beliefs about the causes of mental health that impacts how they experience these issues and their disposition to disclose. They fear being ridiculed.
“Our service makes clear that we are aware of and understand these beliefs, and that we can help despite them.”
Fahad Khan, a manager at Human Appeal, told Arab News that this is a mission his organization is happy to support.
“We were blown away by Imran and the work he was doing,” he said. “As a charity we want to be involved in causes that are providing much-needed support to the community, and what Breaking the Silence is doing is right at the fore of that.”
Human Appeal, Khan said, will fund Manzoor’s work for the next year, and the knock-on effects of the collaboration could help to do much more than tackle mental health problems alone. For example, he said, mental health issues and homelessness often go hand-in-hand and so by tackling declining mental health among minority communities, the charities could also help people living rough on the streets to find the help they need and get back on their feet.
Some of these people, particularly those from minority backgrounds, need mental health care that is tailored to their specific ethnic or spiritual backgrounds, and this is why Breaking The Silence is such an important charity for the millions of Muslims in the UK, said Khan.
“What Imran Manzoor is doing at Breaking The Silence is providing support to people who may not be able to access other mental health services, because they’re culturally sensitive or they don’t have the capacity to support people who have cultural or religious sensitivities,” he added.