Islington helping to create better futures and mental health for young Black men

Islington Council and the NHS have announced a new, innovative program to help young Black men and boys with their mental health, promoting creating better futures and tackling inequality.

The Young Black Men and Mental Health program will run for three years and will use a holistic approach through four strands to improve personal mental health and well-being, aspirations and life opportunities.

The four strands are:

  • A training program will see barbers in four Islington barber shops equipped with the skills to recognize when a customer is struggling with their mental health and assist them in accessing appropriate support. This will see barbers trained as mental health ambassadors and enable them to act as catalysts for improving mental health.
  • The “Becoming a Man” program will be delivered in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and will see three Islington secondary schools supporting young Black boys in their long-term mental wellbeing. This will be done by allocating a full-time trained counselor to each school, delivering five sessions per week with groups of young people, including one-to-one support.
  • The “Elevate Innovation Hub” will develop “Elevate Innovation Key Workers” who will provide neighborhood support and community coaching for 16 to 25-year-olds at risk of poor health outcomes, serious youth violence and not entering school.
  • A cultural competence program for partners including the police, GPs, social care workers and schools.

Islington Council’s Executive Member for Equality, Culture and Inclusion, Cllr Roulin Khondoker, said:

“Our vision is for a more equal Islington, where everyone has the chance to start, live and age well, which is why mental health is so important to us.

“However, we know that young Black men currently do not enjoy equal opportunities to thrive, and are more likely to live in deprived neighbourhoods, be excluded from school, and be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. It is imperative that we act now to create a better, more equal future for young Black men, where they too can make their dreams a reality.

“The Young Black Men and Mental Health program is key to achieving this. This holistic, pioneering program, will assist young Black men with the mental health challenges they face, and support them to create a better future.

Councilor Jason Jackson, Islington Council ward councilor for Holloway, was heavily involved in the programme. He added:

“Growing up as a young Black man in London was very difficult – it often felt like the world was stacked against you.

“The Black Men and Mental Health youth program is designed to empower, guide and support young Black men and boys as they face these challenges. Through the program, we take on structural and institutional racism, to help shift the practices, assumptions, and perceptions that may be holding young Black boys and men back.

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