New Diverse Cymru initiative aims to improve cultural competence in mental health

A new initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, aimed to improve cultural competence in mental health, health and social care services was officially launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, Assembly Member on 11 October.

The BME Mental Health Workplace Good Practice Certification Scheme developed by equalities charity Diverse Cymru, endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales and independently verified by UKIED is designed for professionals that work with BME communities in Wales, in efforts to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health, health and social care services.

The practice based initiative is evidence based and provides tools and resources to help practitioners provide a culturally appropriate service that importantly will help them assess and measure year-on-year the competency of the services provided.

The initiative has been financially supported by Welsh Government as part of their Section 64 Third Sector Mental Health Grants 2018-2021 for projects to support people with mental ill health across Wales.

Suzanne Duval, BME Mental Health Manager at Diverse Cymru said: “Research has shown that BME people are less likely to seek support for mental ill health at an early stage due to cultural barriers, experience greater problems accessing services and fare less well in the mental health systems, and so they access services much later, when their illness is more severe.

“I have seen many times over the years how simple changes could make a world of difference to those trying to access mental health, health and social care services, and I’m thrilled by the endorsement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, our partnership work with UKIED and the funding and support from the Welsh Government for this ground breaking initiative.

“Research has shown that cultural appropriateness may be the most important factor in the accessibility of services by BME communities. Developing culturally competent services produce numerous benefits for the organisation, patients and community.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services supported this view, saying: “Ethnic minority communities can sometimes encounter issues accessing appropriate healthcare they are not always aware of the services they are entitled to and how to access them. This Certification Scheme will assist mental health organisations and practitioners to ensure they develop culturally appropriate services to improve access to mental health services among ethnic minority communities.”

In further support of the scheme Professor Keith Lloyd, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales, said: “Diverse Cymru provides valuable support for our NHS mental health services by providing a voice and support for people from BME communities in Wales. It’s intended that this resource will help support healthcare professionals with further relevant techniques and interventions to deliver an effective culturally competent, patient centred service.”

Mental health charity Hafal was the first voluntary sector organisation to sign up to the Scheme.

If you would like further information on how to join, please contact Suzanne.duval@diverse.cymru