‘Should I really be here?’ Exploring the relationship between black men's conceptions of well-being, subject positions and help-seeking behaviour

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In the UK, Black men are over-represented at the coercive end of the mental health system but under-represented in terms of seeking help voluntarily. This situation reflects longstanding inequalities that arise from multiple sources. Among these are the conceptions of well-being and help seeking that would enable Black men to access appropriate help at an early stage, and the ways in which mental health service providers could adapt practice to meet the needs of Black clients.

The objectives of this study were to investigate the discourses that Black men draw upon in talking about themselves and their psychological well-being and in seeking help for psychological distress. Nine Black men were recruited via community centres in London, were interviewed, and the transcripts were analysed using Foucauldian discourse analysis. Four discourses were identified, namely oppression and discrimination, Black masculinity, communities and professional systems. These discourses demonstrate the ways in which Black men are discouraged from seeking help for psychological distress. The findings have implications for policy, service delivery, clinical practice and research.

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