Short, Black N Sides is a pilot project that aims to reduce stigma surrounding mental health in black minority ethnic (BME) communities in Sandwell.

The black barbershop has historical importance in the community and provides men with a safe space to chat. Therefore it is the perfect place to embed the Short Black N Sides project and start conversations about mental health.

We know that most men visit the barbershop on a regular basis. In fact, men generally see the same barber, unlike their GP and when someone visits their barber regularly a relationship is built and warning signs around their mental health can be seen far more easily. In addition, that relationship builds trust in time and naturally men tend to open up more.

The Short Black N Sides Barbershop Project has 3 main aims:

  • to support males from BME communities to stay well and normalise mental health by having people with whom they can identify, in a safe place, to talk about their day to day issues or lived experience of mental health difficulties.
  • to deliver an arts based approach to the work and use ‘the arts’ to tell stories, challenge communities, build confidence, spread awareness and positive, powerful messages/images of mental health.
  • to build safe and resilient communities by raising awareness of mental health across the borough, and challenging the stigma and discrimination that exists.

Different ethnic groups have different rates and experiences of mental health difficulties, reflecting their different cultural and socio-economic contexts and access to culturally appropriate treatments. These differences may be explained by a number of factors, including poverty and racism. They may also be because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and meet their particular cultural and other needs.

However, it is not only services that fall short. Within the BME community there is a stigma attached to mental health and until these beliefs and misconceptions are challenged and mental health achieves parity of esteem with physical health it will continue to be an issue that isn’t talked about by friends, families, neighbours and wider communities. It is this wider societal school of thought that needs educating through a fresh and innovative approach driven at the heart of the community.

Starting these conversations throughout the borough of Sandwell will also start to normalise mental health and this will have an impact on wider societal attitudes that exist to start to raise a greater awareness around mental health.

How we can work with you:

If you are interested in developing this project in other areas of the Black Country and Birmingham, please contact [email protected]

Other things you may be interested in:

Mental Health People's Parliament