19 February 2020

Mental health matters

Michel_main

Michal at a Black History Month event in Eccles trying on traditional Yemeni clothing.
Photo by Rob Martin

Michal Alfred-Kamara is a BAME Mental Health Champion group member, a group formed by Salford CCG and facilitated by Result CIC. Here, Michal talks about getting on board.

"When I hit “send” on the email that held my application to the BAME MH Group, it was with no small amount of nervous anticipation.

Would I be accepted? If I was accepted would the group be everything I thought it would be?

I had thought long and hard about why I wanted to be part of the group: mental health in my Sierra Leonean community is akin to the Bogeyman - not talked about at best and highly stigmatised and a source of familial shame at worst. I applied for the group as I wanted to play a part in making a difference and starting a more nuanced conversation than is normally had in my community about the reality of mental health issues.

After being accepted and attending the group, I found I was able to have some of the conversations I wanted to have but more unexpectedly, I also found myself thinking deeply about my values, running around a stage connecting my phone to a temperamental loudspeaker at a Black History Month event and incredibly moved at Mind’s Mental Health First Aid course. I also found a warm and dedicated group of people as keen as I was to make a difference to their communities.

In the very first session, our nervous group of 14 were guided by Hormoz and Linzi into exercises on our values. Beginning with deep consideration about who we were turned out to be a sign of things to come. Over the course of several months, I’ve found myself changing from a relatively reserved speaker to someone able to confidently pose questions to professionals in the mental health field. It has been helpful for our group to be able to put a face to a service and I think services have found being able to speak to a group of people who want to improve services helpful.

It’s been remarkable to see the growth of everyone involved in the group- some members braver than I even gave speeches at a council event! Our little group has gelled together and become (if I may say so myself) a strong source of knowledge. Some of us have experienced mental health issues, some of us haven’t. Some of us work in support roles and some of us don’t. Some of us experience racism and some of us don’t. What we all have in common is our passion for mental health and (if you’ll excuse the cheesiness) doing our bit to make the world a better place.

We have big plans for the future but in order to make those things happen, we need our group to continue. We are hoping for funding but regardless of the outcome, this year has made me feel more confident in my knowledge and skills and I feel very well equipped to do what I set out to do- support others."



 
 
 
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