The event aimed to raise awareness and understanding about young people’s mental health

Mental Health Awareness Workshop for Somali Parents in Southall, Ealing

On 17 March 2016 we ran a two-hour workshop for parents, led by clinical psychologist Lynne Eastwood and Katie from Ealing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The event aimed to raise awareness and understanding about young people’s mental health, particularly as it is a highly stigmatised area within the Somali community.

The attendance was fantastic. More than 30 parents were there, all of whom were members of a community where information regarding mental health issues is scarce and often outdated, leaving them ill-equipped for the medical, psychological, social and emotional realities of mental health issues today.

SADC and Ealing CAMHS provided information and guidance about the nature of mental health, the early signs of mental health issues and alternatives to traditionally handed-down remedies, as well as who parents can contact for more help. The parents were taught how to distinguish between the stress most young people inevitably experience and the anxiety that’s likely to be part of a mental health issue. The workshop was highly interactive, with a Q&A session where the parents could voice their specific concerns about mental health.

The interpretation and facilitation provided by SADC linked Lynne and Katie’s presentations to the context-specific needs and experiences of Somali parents. Most of the parents said the only mental illness they’d previously known about was schizophrenia. They described the session as eye-opening, educational and hugely enlightening, particularly because Lynne and Katie from CAMHS were there.