Maat Probe mental health project has been offering support to African Caribbean men with mental health difficulties and promoting their anti-stigma initiative in Sheffield for a few years now, but how did it all start?
Two years ago after receiving a £2,000 grant by Open Up, (an initiative run by the lottery funded anti-stigma campaign Time To Change) Maat Probe went about conducting their own research of negative experiences of African-Carribean inpatients on acute wards.
The group used their funding to survey the African Caribbean users of local services and discovered that many had negative experiences on wards. Though black men seemed to have largely positive experiences of outpatient and community care, the same could not be said of their experiences with inpatient care. The areas for which they expressed the most concern were practice of control and restraint to physically subdue people in mental health facilities.
Maat Probe passed along their findings to health executives, and the Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS foundation trust is now in talks which hope to find the best way of implementing the recommendations that alternative to conventional control and restraint methods be considered.
“We felt that services needed to listen to what we had to say,” says Robin Cox, a member of Maat Probe. They were also keen, he explains, to increase the public’s awareness of the issues facing black men in mental health settings, and conducting a survey was a “big step” in that direction.