Burgeoning research has highlighted the convoluted mental health pathways of members of the African and Caribbean communities, and their over-representation within the mental health service.
In many respects their experiences are a microcosm of issues associated with the black minority ethnic communities living in London. Experiences around spirituality, for instance, may be one key area frequently “pathologised” by those involved in delivering mental health care, rather than viewed as one element of a holistic mental health assessment. This project aims to create a synergy combining methods of anthropological research with principles of action research.
Preliminary fieldwork has been carried out across particular areas of London, along with action research cycles involving mental health professionals, those using the service, and traditional healers. At the heart of the programme is a desire to create a dialogue between traditional healers and mental health professionals, to ensure that the voices of the mental health service users, who are also involved in this project, are “heard” rather than “interpreted”, and to develop services accordingly.