Staff and students get a first-hand account of being black and having mental health issues

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University of Northampton students and staff got an insight into the difficulties black people with mental health problems face during a talk with the star of a film about the subject.

Keith Dube, who starred in the BBC documentary Being Black, Going Crazy, spoke about his depression and the barriers he faced in opening up about it and accessing help in a session opened by Dr Steve O’Brien, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Society at University of Northampton.

Staff and students also had the chance to ask Keith questions, covering the impact of social media on people’s perceptions of mental health, the role of religion in helping or hindering people seeking help and if there is bias in medical diagnoses of mental health.

He now works to help highlight awareness of mental health in the black community, giving lectures across the UK about how he plucked up the courage to start talking about his experiences.

Commenting on this appearance, Keith said: “Talking about having depression helped me start getting better, so I’m glad University of Northampton gave me time to continue the conversation.

“It’s all about education, education, education – people don’t know what to do about mental health, so it’s down to all of us to inform them and get them talking about it too.

“I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true – if just one person goes away from my speech and helps others to talk about mental health, then that’s a big success.”

Monica Catelinet, Senior Lecturer in Social Care at the University of Northampton, said: “This all started with an email. I emailed Keith because, after watching the documentary, I found his story inspirational.

“Mental health is a tricky subject for people to talk about, especially if their background and culture place hurdles in front of them. One thing people will take away from Keith’s speech is how all of us can do something to make a difference.

“At University of Northampton, we have dedicated support for students that includes a counselling and mental health team.

“We also have a support group for black students called Padare, a Zimbabwean term for ‘Meeting Place’. Here, we provide peer support for issues that relate to them during their studies, such as mental health and to bring them together and share their experiences.”

For more about Keith, read his blog.

Watch the trailer for the documentary on the BBC’s website.

See our website for more about the Social Work course at the University of Northampton.

See our website for details and contacts for student support services at University of Northampton.

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