Looking after the mental health of BAME communities

Today’s blog comes from Jean Smith MBE, Director of the Nilaari Agency in Bristol.

Bristol’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic-led community-based mental health service has remained open for existing and new clients throughout the lockdown. Nilaari is now in its 21st year of meeting the needs of BAME and all communities.

Over the last few months, the coronavirus pandemic has caused increased levels of anxiety across all communities but, specifically, has caused confusion and fear among the BAME population. Over the last few weeks, we have had the terrible events in the USA and the unrest caused by the responses to this crime which have both united communities, but also sadly divided others. Nilaari understands the feelings that can result from these terrible events.

We are very aware of the toll on mental health that the current crisis can have and believe that feeling heard and understood can help build resilience to deal with new and different situations that arise. Nilaari has been gaining the trust of a diverse range of clients, working towards redressing the acknowledged under-representation of these groups in services. Statistics show that a proportion of BAME communities may be more reluctant to seek support from services because of being unaware of what is available or may feel that they will not be fully understood. Currently, fears are heightened through media reports of the impact on some communities of the virus and sometimes confusing messages about how to stay safe. 

It can take courage to reach for the phone and ask for support. Everyone has their own story about the impact of Covid-19 and now the Black Lives Matter action. Nilaari can offer a listening ear, and an opportunity to be supported through your own difficulties before things get worse. We are located in one of the most diverse wards in Bristol, offering a city-wide service and know well through our long experience, the importance of listening first and responding with respect and sensitivity, a high level of competence and cultural understanding.

If you or your loved ones are feeling anxious and stressed, or the pandemic is impacting on your mood, making you feel overwhelmed, fearful or panicked, then Nilaari has a team of a team of experienced, trained therapists from diverse communities who are able to offer emotional therapeutic support by telephone. Our services are designed to be welcoming, empowering, empathic and affording dignity and respect to all sections of the population regardless of ethnicity, gender, orientation, faith, age or ability. We are finding new ways of reaching out to those who may benefit from starting the process to recovery.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling and looking for help, they can call Nilaari on 0117 952 5742 (during office hours) or email nilaari@nilaari.co.uk, leaving your name and contact details. For more information visit our website at https://www.nilaari.co.uk/

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