Today, we could probably name at least one Black Owned Business associated with food, fashion, beauty and technology. When considering black entertainment, we as a black community have not disappointed in this sector either. We are spoilt for choices when it comes to choosing short online films to watch, podcasts to listen to and reading material from black writers (via blogs, books and online magazines). We have come a long way! And I am certain that as community will continue to flourish within these industries.
However, there are still industries which still lack representation from us as a black community, such as services and charities linked to mental health. Which to me is very unfortunate; especially when facts display that African – Caribbean people are most likely to be diagnosed with severe mental health illness in comparison to any other ethnic group.
Although, there are plenty of non-black mental health support groups that can provide sufficient services and care to patients – what is stopping us from looking after our own community (and other ethnicities too)?
Is it due to our lack of knowledge on mental health? Or maybe it is the way African and Caribbean communities, our parents and leaders view mental illnesses as whole?
I somehow sense that it is the lack of knowledge on mental health that initiates the stigmas around black people and mental health illnesses. Resources (1st class research study from Saida Odutayo) have shown that these stigmas play a key role in influencing the treatment of black people both within society and mental health institutions.
I don’t know about you, but this is an indication that we as black community have to step up and make it our business to raise awareness about mental health, organise support groups and make it our job to dilute all the stigmas associated with mental health illnesses.
So via my favourite social media platform: Twitter – I came across two ‘on point’ organisations in aid to support mental health patients and their love ones:
SAIE: Survive – Achieve – Inspire – Elevate. Founded by Saida Odutayo
Saida set up this charity (currently in the process of being registered) for the purpose that there is hardly any information out there when it comes to Africans – Caribbean communities and mental health. Due to her passion on this matter she also managed to do a research study on “How do stigmas attributed to Black girl and parental attitudes towards mental health issues, influence whether Black girls access mental health service?” – a heavy weighted topic with a well written report.
SAIE is an organisation aiming to reconstruct the existing social stigma around Mental Health in African and Caribbean diaspora intergenrationally, to provide aid and support sufferers of mental health within the community and to improve and encourage community cohesion with African and Caribbean communities.
To achieve this Saida and her team organise a variety of events, small forums, group counselling and more. How inspiring is that!
SibiCare: “Here to care for you and help you care for your siblings”. Founded by Evadine Okoye
When I first read about this, I was amazed! I needed a reason to write about this support group and here I am.
SibiCare is a service designed to support a community of siblings who have a brother and sisters suffering from a NCD illnesses such as Schizophrenia.
Evadine started SibiCare through a personal journey of hers. Her brother was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia for over 13 years and as expected his care had been prioritised and as his younger sister, she had to inherit the role of an unofficial carer and soon came to realise that there was a lack of tailor made resources that equipped her with not only the knowledge she needed to understand about the situation but also a platform that supported her as a sister.
Whilst SibiCare provides a tailored made service through its physical and digital platform, enabling siblings to connect with others like themselves; Evadine has already been nominated for “The Helen Hamlyn Design Awards” in 2016 and has also came 2nd place in the “Young Digital Leader Awards” in the same year.
On a whole, getting to know about SAIE and SibiCare has given me an insight that maybe our millennial African – Caribbean generation are gradually sticking our heads out when it comes to owning support groups and organisations when it comes to Black communities (as well as other ethnicities) and mental health illness.
Baby steps, right?.
By Damilola Anu Coker