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Report launched to understand the mental health and well-being needs of ethnic minority groups

A group of health and community workers, service providers and academics have met at Queen’s University for the launch of ‘Hearing our Needs’, a report which focuses on the mental health and emotional well-being needs of ethnic minority groups.

Queen’s University and Counselling All Nations Services (CANS) in South Belfast have been working collaboratively on the ‘Hearing Our Needs’ project. 

The report, which was launched at Riddel Hall today (Wednesday 15 March), provides the first comprehensive overview of its kind.  

The project took place across Northern Ireland and provides detailed information on the mental health and emotional well-being needs of people from ethnic minority groups and the service providers who support them. 

The 'Hearing Our Needs' project was supervised and produced by Dr M Satish Kumar, Lekan Ojo-Okiji Abasi, Steven Donnelly and Nuala McCarthy-Kumar.  

At the launch, Queen’s University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Elborn joined HE Dame Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, HM Lord Lieutenant of the Co Borough Belfast and Professor Siobhan O’Neill,Mental Health Champion, NIin providing their unanimous support for the report. 

The report was welcomed by leading healthcare professionals, community representatives and members of the community. 

Professor Stuart Elborn, Queen’s University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, commented: “I am delighted that Queen’s University Belfast has been working collaboratively with CANS to drive forward this very important work. As a University, our students and staff are our first priority. It is vital that we have a better understanding of what our students need in terms of support for mental health and emotional well-being.

“The ‘Hearing our Needs’ project is ensuring that ethnic minority communities are represented at every level and I look forward to seeing how the recommendations can help shape a positive future for all.”

HE Dame Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, HM Lord Lieutenant of the Co Borough Belfast, said: “The economic, cultural and social contribution that ethnic minority communities make to life in Northern Ireland is quite simply beyond value.  

“Consequently, it is of absolute importance that we establish and understand what the specific challenges around mental health and wellness are for the members of those communities. As Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, I congratulate CANS on this important and timely report. I hope it will promote resilience, inclusivity and diversity for all of Northern Ireland's people.”  

Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion, Northern Ireland, commented: “As a trauma researcher, I have long been concerned about the mental health needs of ethnic minority communities in Northern Ireland. This evidence-based report is an important resource and is key to understanding the challenges faced by communities. There is a clear need to ensure that this population, which continues to face challenges of discrimination, racism and inequality are able to access the same mental health services and support as the rest of the population."

Dr M Satish Kumar from Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of CANS, said: “Despite the advance of human prosperity and achievements, mental health remains an enigma, a stigma deeply invested in cultural meanings and often underestimated within the consciousness of everyday life. This report reiterates the significance of culturally-sensitive counselling services to overcome a range of barriers faced by the ever-expanding ethnic minority communities living in Northern Ireland.”