The Chinese Mental Health Advocacy and Support Project was funded for three years by the King's Fund. It began in October 2006 and employed one full-time Chinese mental health advocate covering all boroughs in the Greater London area.
The aims of the Project were to:
- Improve access to health care services for Chinese people with mental health needs
- Improve the experiences of Chinese people with mental health needs using health care services
The objectives of the Project were to:
- Enable the voice of Chinese patients to be heard, through providing language and cultural support, and thus ensure that patients receive appropriate and responsive services.
- Build a two-way bridge between Chinese patients and mental health professionals, providing explanations of Chinese cultural background to professionals and relaying information from professionals to patients to reduce the stigma of mental illness among the community.
- Provide continuity and stability in the support received by Chinese patients that would not be available with the conventional use of interpreters.
- Provide emotional and practical support to Chinese patients and their families, recognising that social welfare is crucial to mental well-being.
The key findings of the Project were:
- The provision of a community-based advocacy service is essential to meeting the mental health needs of the Chinese community in London. The community advocacy model used in this Project was successful in:
- improving access to health and social care services among settled Chinese residents
- improving engagement with mental health services for patients with severe mental illness, especially among new migrants
- improving communication and understanding between health professionals and clients across all client groups and in all settings, including general practice, community mental health services and inpatient units
- improving communication and understanding between other services, such as housing and legal services, and clients across all client groups, assisting in issues that were key factors in determining health and mental health and in promoting recovery
The cultural identity and ability to communicate in the two main Chinese dialects used in the UK (Cantonese and Mandarin) were critical attributes of the advocate.
- The CNHLC's counselling service is an important resource that provides culturally and linguistically-sensitive support to the Chinese community in London. Current statutory provision of psychological therapies does not meet the cultural or language needs of Chinese people.
- New migrants are a particularly vulnerable group who require practical assistance to meet their basic welfare needs. Across all client groups, advocacy support in this area was highly valued by both service providers and clients. The advocate worked in partnership with social workers and community psychiatric nurses to ensure that the basic needs of clients were met. Social isolation was also prevalent across all groups but was perhaps experienced more intensely by new migrants, who were also isolated from their family and for whom there is a lack of Chinese community resources.
Download the full evaluation report of the Chinese Mental Health Advocacy and Support project (file format: PDF, size: 0.4Mb).