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ENRICHing people's lives

WMS research findings into the impact of mental illness on young people and their families, has been translated into a powerful play by Santé Theatre.

The play, Cracked, is based upon findings from the NIHR funded ENRICH programme of research Led by Professor Swaran Singh. The research team interviewed people from different cultural or ethnic groups, and their families, to see how they reacted to the early signs of psychosis. With their permissions, some of these experiences feature in the play.

Addressing the ignorance and misconceptions that are often associated with mental health, Cracked explores the experiences of three young people during a first episode of psychosis. Offering a unique and refreshingly honest exploration into the fear and stigma which too often compromises seeking help, the play was funded by the Wellcome Trust and premiered last year. It has toured a number of cities including Glasgow, Birmingham, Nottingham and Derby, sharing the research findings to a wider audience, far beyond the academic community.

The ENRICH programme comprises three interlinked studies aimed at understanding ethnic and cultural determinants of help-seeking and pathways to care.

Results suggested that statutory healthcare organisations need to work closely with community groups to improve pathways to care for BME service users and, that rather than universal public education campaigns, researchers need to develop and evaluate public awareness programmes that are specifically focused on BME groups.

Professor Singh says: “The main purpose of scientific research is to challenge existing certainties and provide fresh answers to old questions. The ENRICH programme shows that ethnic differences in early psychosis are due to a complex interplay between how different cultural groups attribute meaning to the bewildering experience of emerging psychosis and how these determine help-seeking.

NHS services need to develop collaborative partnerships with faith organisations and other community groups so that services are accessible and appropriate for the diverse populations we serve. Hopefully the findings will go some way towards restoring trust between minority communities and mental health services.”