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By Newsdesk

Thursday, August 9, 2012.

Unique story-telling performances, a rap sensation, an interactive game, and the live broadcast of personal stories on mental illness from refugees are just some of the ways that mental health discrimination will be tackled in Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities with new funding from Time to Change, England's biggest mental health anti-stigma programme.

Earlier this year Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief, launched a new grants fund that will see approximately £2.7 million awarded to around 70 local community groups over the next three years to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination at community levels.  

A total of £533,600 has been awarded from the first round to 16 new projects, with almost half (48%) focused on work with people from BME communities. Each of the projects have people with mental health problems in leading positions who will have direct contact with the public to start the kind of conversations that can transform attitudes.

Some of the successful projects include:

-     'Challenge Minds, Inspire Change', a project run by The Afiya Trust with an advisory group of ten people from BME communities with experience of mental health problems that will support local BME organisations to organise and run events. Afiya will also run larger regional events for employers, schools, colleges and charities.

-     'Mis-understanding' run by BRAP in partnership with Youth Space in the West Midlands will bring together young people with and without personal experience of mental health problems to explore the negative language often used around mental health, with a specific focus on young people from BME communities.   Interactive resources will be developed and young people will be trained as learning mentors, using the resources in schools, youth clubs, and voluntary organisations to start conversations about mental health.

-          'Post-traumatic Resilience Project' run by Refugee Radio, where ten refugees and asylum seekers who have mental health problems will put together a series of events for the wider refugee community. At these events, people who do not have mental health problems will have the chance to talk to and learn from those who do. Extracts from these conversations will be recorded and made into a radio documentary. This programme will be broadcast on FM radio, Refugee Week radio, and it will be available as a podcast.

-          'Faith, Culture and Mental Health - the Hidden Story' run by Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham in partnership with the East London Mosque and the University of East London Student Union will use their extensive networks of to reach the local community. Using a range of small events, stalls and story telling, volunteers with personal experience of mental health problems will engage the public and share their experiences.

On 2 February 2011 the Department of Health launched No health without mental health, a cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages which has the twin aims of keeping people well and improving their mental health and, when people are not well, improving their outcomes through high-quality services.

The strategy is based on six shared objectives, developed with partners from across the mental health sector, and focuses on 'Recovery' and the reduction of stigma and discrimination as overarching themes.

To help deliver the objective to reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health problems, in 2011 the Department agreed to support Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The Department of Health is providing the campaign with up to £16 million of funding together with a further £4 million from Comic Relief. This funding will help Time to Change continue their work until March 2015.

Patrick Vernon from The Afiya Trust said: "We are delighted to receive funding from Time to Change and we can't wait to get started with our work across the country. We know that there is a lot of stigma within BME communities and we really hope that our project will dig deep into the community to get the message across that mental health is not something to ignore and shy away from. If people are ill they need to get the help and support they need to get better and people can't do this if their illness is swept under the carpet."

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: "We know that one of the most powerful ways to change attitudes is when people take the lead in driving change within their own communities so we are very excited to be able to award these grant funds. What works in one community may not work in another, so through the grants fund we are putting the power to make change happen locally in the hands of the experts - the people who know their communities the best.

"Each and every one of the projects that have received funding will see people with lived experience of mental health problems taking a lead role, empowering them to be at the forefront in challenging mental health stigma and discrimination in England."

The fund is now open for the second round of applications and the deadline for applications is 2pm on Friday 21 September. Grants will be awarded at the end of the year, with two more rounds of funding in 2013.

For information about the grants and for a full list of the projects awarded funded in round one please visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/grants

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