Haringey Community Press

Haringey Community Press

A safe space

A safe space: why early mental health crisis intervention is crucial

Hero for A safe space
Raheem Mu Khepera

Why early mental health crisis intervention is crucial

By Raheem Mu Khepera, founder, Brothers Safe Space

At age 11, African Caribbean boys are no more likely to present with a diagnosable mental health condition than their white peers, yet by the time they become adults they are many times more likely to be identified with severe diagnosable mental health conditions − leading to costly and restrictive mental health crisis treatment.

Stigmatisation around mental health challenges is high; trust in the medical profession can be low yet there remains a dearth of early intervention and peer support services. There are few spaces in Haringey where Black African and Caribbean men feel they can discuss their experiences and concerns about their mental health and well-being in environments that safeguard confidentiality free from stigmatisation, and that are culturally centered.

We will be formally launching Brothers Safe Space this month, although we’ve been meeting informally for the last two years. We provide a safe space for Black African and Caribbean men (aged 16 years and above) to talk, creating a true intergenerational dialogue where we can learn from each other’s experiences, providing, interconnectedness and advocacy where needed.

Principally we will be running our fortnightly peer support group from our base at Mind in Haringey. Mind will also be supporting our facilitators to become mental health first aiders, which ensures that the brothers can be appropriately supported and guided.

The last 15 months have been a very difficult time for the brothers, as a result of Covid-19 and ill health. Many of the group members expressed frustration and mental fatigue. Calling each other and regularly checking in, passing words of encouragement and sharing information of supportive health services, as well as job and training opportunities, helped to alleviate some of the isolation and prevented several brothers from experiencing crisis.

Unfortunately, several wards of Tottenham and Wood Green have many challenges of socio-economic deprivation which increase the risk factors and likelihood of experiencing mental health crises. The restrictions on movement and social interaction throughout the pandemic have further increased these factors; as such there has never been a more pressing need for peer support and early intervention.

Meet the brothers at the first session at Mind in Haringey, Station House, 73c Stapleton Hall Road, N4 3QF, on Thursday 8th July 2021 at 7pm.

For further information: Email [email protected]