The ‘Cultural Competency Toolkit’, developed by equalities charity Diverse Cymru, was launched by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Vaughan Gething in October 2016. The toolkit aims to help mental health and social care staff better interact with clients from other cultures by providing guidance on how staff can take action to overcome the barriers that Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people often face when accessing services because of differences in culture.
At the launch Suzanne Duval, BME Mental Health Manager at Diverse Cymru who developed the toolkit said:
“Research has shown that BME people are less likely to seek support for mental ill health at an early stage due to cultural barriers and so they access services much later, when their illness is more severe. This toolkit aims to equip staff with the knowledge to recognise mental ill health in BME clients, so that they are able offer treatment before the clients’ illnesses worsen.
For example, the toolkit advises that body language is not the same in all cultures. Some people may not make eye contact with a doctor or professional, but this is not because of shyness or trying to hide something, but rather a way to show respect. A simple misunderstanding based on body language, or written information in a language they can’t read could easily lead to someone dropping out of the system.
I have seen many times over the years how simple changes could make a world of difference to those trying to access mental health services, and I’m very glad the Welsh Government has funded and supported this piece of work.
I hope that this Toolkit provides healthcare professionals with some of the relevant techniques and interventions to deliver an effective culturally competent, patient centered service.”
Vaughan Gething AM said:
“Diverse Cymru provides valuable support for our NHS mental health services by providing a voice and support for people from BME service users in Wales
“I welcome the development of the Cultural Competency Toolkit which will help professionals and services deliver more appropriate care and support. Such projects will help us achieve a number of the goals included in our ten-year strategy Together for Mental Health.”
Having launched the Toolkit, it was recognised that this would not be enough to make the much needed practical ongoing improvements to the mental health services received to BME communities in Wales. If things were to improve, more was needed, as we did not want the Toolkit to just potentially sit on the shelf of organisations, unused.
Working with an established charter mark organisation, the United Kingdom Investor in Equality and Diversity (UKIED), Diverse Cymru have added to the toolkit a certification scheme and on the 11th October 2018, launched: The Diverse Cymru BME Mental Health Workplace Good Practice Certification Scheme, so that organisations can work towards an excellence standard in delivering culturally appropriate services. It is now hoped that the Toolkit together with the evidence based certification process will provide organisations and practitioners with relevant support, techniques and interventions to be able to deliver an effective culturally competent, patient centered service, and importantly to better measure the improvements in BME Mental Health workplace best practice year on year.