Mohasin Ahmed, who facilitates the Minority Ethnic Collective Advocacy group at CAPS, reflects on the group’s experience-led workshop series Insights into Ethnic Minority Mental Health.
The group created these three workshops as they wanted to express the challenges that we face as people from Minority Ethnic communities related to mental health and trying to access services outside of our cultural experiences. They also wanted to use the workshops to embrace culture and race, and to share experiences.
In the workshops, we covered the topics we felt were most important to demonstrate the issues faced by our communities. This includes belonging, representation in society and the media. We also included different forms of racial discrimination out with and within our communities, mental health stigma and accessing services.
Creating three workshops on different topics allowed us to go below the surface of the issues we have faced – putting the audience in our shoes. We gave the background context to how our experiences are shaped by wider issues of unconscious bias and structural racism.
The power of personal stories
These workshops proved the power of having a space for an open and honest discussion. Attendees said that hearing personal stories and providing moments of discussion and reflection was particularly beneficial to their understanding of our experiences. This is because there are usually little opportunities to have an in-depth, nuanced conversation about race in a non-judgemental, controlled space. These workshops provided such a space. It takes a lot of energy to talk about the issues we have faced, as racialised people, due to the related trauma and past experiences of being dismissed. Having a space dedicated to expressing our experiences on our terms was extremely powerful.
I think that the workshops were important not just to educate but to provide the space for deeper understanding and dialogue about complex issues. Issues which need time and care to explain. As a facilitator I could recognise the impact that the groups’ words were having and could see the audience’s understanding deepen throughout the workshops. The feedback that we received also reflected this:
Due to the great response that we received we hope to repeat the workshops again and give more opportunities for people to hear our stories. Keep an eye on our events page or sign up for our newsletter below for details.