Mental Health education project for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups
Roshani (Urdu for “Light”) is a specialist mental health education project working with people from different ethnic backgrounds to increase awareness of mental health issues and challenge stigma. Roshani has been working over the past six years with the Asian community in particular.
Mental health is a huge issue for people of all backgrounds and, for some, traditional and cultural beliefs can mean that it is even more difficult. For example, research has found that mental health problems are much higher in the Asian community than in the White UK population, for a number of possible reasons:
Sharam (“shame”) around mental health is a powerful factor that can prevent people from acknowledging mental health problems and seeking help. People may be fearful about being the subject of gossip, and this can extend to friends and family.
There can be misunderstandings about mental health, including the belief that mental illness does not count as a treatable medical condition. Families can assume responsibility for caring for someone with mental health problems, without seeking professional help.
When people do seek help, they may find that services do not understand their culture and there may be language barriers that mean they do not get the level of service they need – this can lead to distrust and unwillingness to attend appointments
From the beginning, we knew we wanted Roshani to take a different approach – working with, not against, cultural and traditional beliefs. We’re delighted to have found some fantastic volunteers from within the community to help us design and deliver educational workshops, resources and support groups. We have been humbled by people’s personal stories; wherever we go, people tell us what an important subject this is for their community, and how much needs to be done.
Roshani has proven to be succeeding in its aim to get people talking about mental health, giving people information and directing them towards suitable support. Working with community organisations, including mosques, it has been successful in engaging people in tackling a hitherto taboo subject, with almost 400 people getting involved so far. 98% of those have said that they feel more knowledgeable and confident about mental health, including how to maintain their own emotional health and wellbeing.
Roshani delivers in several different ways to meet a variety of needs, including: Community-based peer support groups (currently for women)
Mental health workshops in primary and secondary schools
Culturally aware mental health drop-in for schools in the Park Ward area
Mental health workshops and recovery courses for community groups
Activity based workshops - topics decided by participants
Culturally sensitive bespoke mental health training for organisations
Highly successful conference for women to explore mental health and self-care, held at local mosque
Developing, training and empowering volunteers from the community
When the pandemic hit, Roshani adapted by offering 1:1 telephone support. This proved to be extremely popular, plugging a big gap for isolated members of the community who could not find a culturally informed statutory service to help them. One woman said: "The Roshani service is a good service for me to access - I am very quiet and don't like to speak of my mental health - Neelam makes me feel very comfortable and I don't feel ashamed or embarassed when we have our session." - B.N
To find out more about Roshani, contact Neelam on 01422 345154 / mobile 07947 110403 / email firstname.lastname@example.org for a friendly, confidential chat. We’re particularly interested in talking to men from the community who might like to be involved. Roshani is funded by Calderdale Council's Stronger Neighbourhoods scheme.
 Research includes: mental health inpatient audit (SWYPFT 2012); Chief Medical Officer Annual Report on Public MH Priorities (DOH, 2013); Family Matters: A report into attitudes towards mental health problems in the South Asian community in Harrow, North West London (Time to Change, November 2010)