The Meanings of Mental Health Recovery for African and Caribbean Men in the UK An Intersectionalities Approach

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Kris Southby
Frank Keating
Stephen Joseph


Racial disparities for African and Caribbean men are nowhere as stark as in mental health services and outcomes. Men from these communities who have been in contact with mental health services seemed to be stuck in a stalled cycle of recovery. This paper reports the findings from a study that aimed to explore how African and Caribbean men and their supporters conceptualise mental health recovery at the intersections of masculinity, racialised identities and mental distress. It illuminates the perspectives of service users,
family, carers and practitioners on recovery in relation to ethnicity and culture.
Owing to the exploratory nature of this study, a qualitative design using a phenomenological approach was adopted to capture the dynamics of recovery processes and outcomes for African and Caribbean men across two study sites. Interviews were conducted with African and Caribbean men, their supporters and service providers. Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis (IPA; Smith J, Flowers P, Larkin M. Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory method and research. London: SAGE; 2009) was used to offer insights into how recovery was understood and experienced by study participants.
Seven overarching themes emerged from the data in relation to the meanings of recovery: recovering from social suffering, leading a normal life, (re)gaining control and agency, a sense of hope, (re)gaining identity, reduced medical involvement, and recovery being a healing journey.
The paper concludes that recovery is an ongoing process, not merely a narrow outcome to be achieved for men. The paper advances previous understandings by conceptualising mental health recovery for African and Caribbean men as a journey towards addressing individual and collective “social suffering” that occurs at the intersections of masculinity, “race” and mental distress, and moving to a better social location.


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Author Biographies

Kris Southby, Leeds Beckett University; Leeds, UK

Leeds Beckett University; Leeds, UK

Frank Keating, Royal Holloway, University of London

Department of Social Work, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, UK

Stephen Joseph, Royal Holloway University of London

Department of Social Work, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, UK


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