Publish date: 22 June 2022

On Monday 20 June, the Trust celebrated the first cohort to graduate from its new 'People Like Us' course. People Like Us is an exciting new project that aims to enhance the support available for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students by breaking down potential barriers some communities may face when accessing mental health support. The six-week course was launched in partnership with The University of West London(UWL), the Office for Students and The Recovery College and was designed for students in collaboration with students and our services.  

Students at the university are able to sign up online to get access to innovative, racially and culturally competent mental health and wellbeing support that is designed by students for students in collaboration with wellbeing experts from the community. BAME students often experience discrimination and subsequent mental health challenges. This project was therefore launched in order to make sure these groups receive the support they require in the most effective way possible. The course actively explores the way in which racial and cultural stressors influence wellbeing and enable students to learn ways to manage these challenges. These are delivered via face-to-face workshops, online peer support and pre-recorded workshops via MS Teams and are delivered by both mental health practitioners and peer trainers from the Trust's Recovery College. People co-facilitating the support are representative of their communities and have lived experience and each session has been co-designed and tailored for each community group in mind. 

During the development of the programme, eight groups of students were set up to consider a specific area, for example, BAME LGBTQ+ students, and to think about what changes could be made to the programme to continue to improve how ‘People Like Us’ should continue to tackle these issues. These sessions explored some of the challenges that BAME community groups face and how this may impact mental health and wellbeing including racism, religion, as well as cultural identity and gender norms. This has been used to continually improve the content of the workshops.

The aim for students accessing ‘People Like Us’ is that they will come away understanding the project and its aims, understanding more about themselves and their way of thinking, develop the skills to manage stress, learn to cope with difficult emotions and begin to recognize how to live a happier and healthier life.

Dr Julia Renton, Clinical Director for Community and Recovery Mental Health Services at West London said “The graduation event was a true celebration of what can be achieved in partnership working. The stories shared by the students were a wonderful reflection of their resilience, their journeys and their successes.”

You can find out more information about 'People Like Us' here.

The project was funded by the Office for Students in partnership with the university's student union and West London NHS Trust. The Office for Students is the independent regulator of higher education in England.