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Seebohm thesis Aug 2013.pdf (1.27 MB)

"It's about liberation" Community development support for groups of black people with mental health problems

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posted on 2023-08-30, 13:55 authored by Patience Seebohm
Disproportionately high numbers of Black people use mental health services and experience involuntary treatment in the UK. There is no simple explanation, but research and policy suggest that groups run by and for Black people with mental health problems provide valued support. This study asks how community development (CD) practice can help these groups to develop and thrive. The research adopted an action research framework to develop four cycles of research, each informing the next, within a social constructivist paradigm. Methods were mainly qualitative: interviews, group discussions and observation, with a questionnaire survey in cycle one. This asked CD practitioners about their activities and helped to identify two groups for case studies in cycles two and three. During the case studies, groups received development support on their chosen topic while participating in qualitative research; activities were clearly demarcated. Reflective field notes added to the data. In the fourth cycle reflective conversations with eminent ‘critical friends’ refined and affirmed the learning. Thematic analysis was continuous and progressive. Findings suggest that CD practitioners can inspire and help Black people with mental health problems to come together in member-led, mutually supportive groups, justifying Black-only membership. Effective practitioners, especially Black role models, helped groups to generate self-belief and self-efficacy through collective action, enabling members to change their status, services and community. Those practitioners who demonstrated critical humility, commitment and competence broke the pattern of racial and psychiatric dominance. Others inadvertently reinforced societal oppression. A new concept is introduced to encapsulate the learning: the ‘liberation approach’ to CD which synthesises four perspectives: radical CD, mental health recovery, Black self-help and liberation theories. This approach helps groups to challenge oppressive processes, breaking the mould in which they feel constrained. The study contributes new theory, evidence and research methodology about CD and self-organising groups within this context.



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