This New App Could Revolutionise Mental Healthcare In The Black Community


2. Cham
decided to set up Recovr after witnessing the experience his
close friend, Nathan Levy*, went through after identifying
his own mental health concerns.

Cham decided to set up Recovr after witnessing the experience his close friend, Nathan Levy*, went through after identifying his own mental health concerns.

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Recovr

“[When Levy] was going through a dark period, and came to the
conclusion that he needed to seek help, he had tools that
many in the black community don’t have: awareness that mental
health is something you should take seriously and finance
that allowed him to invest in mental healthcare,” explains
Cham.

Also significant, says Cham, was that Levy knew he wanted to
seek treatment with a black woman.

“At the time, I was beginning to learn more about my
blackness and was exploring the idea of masculinity and what
role it played it in my life,” explains Levy. “A lot of the
lessons I’d learned had sprung from conversations with black
women so, at the time, I felt more comfortable being
vulnerable around black women than black men.”

ID: 8156900

3. Levy
also wanted to maintain a level of control over his
healthcare.

“I didn’t feel comfortable going to my GP as I didn’t like
the idea of having to prove there was something wrong with
me… which I found to be the case on most GP visits,” he says.
“This was going to be a very important and personal step in
my life, and I didn’t want to be handled as a number that had
to be processed and inputted into a spreadsheet.”

After researching services that could have helped Levy, Cham
noticed a distinct gap in the market. “I’ve always wanted to
do things for my community,” he says, “so I thought, how do I
turn the process that he went through, into a system that
everyone can use?”

ID: 8156907

4. Here’s
how the app works.

Here's how the app works.

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Recovr

Recovr users will be asked three questions: ‘How much can you
afford?’, ‘Where are you based?’, and ‘Who is it for?’

Based on the answers given, a list of suitable therapists
will come up, detailing who they are and what they specialise
in, where they’re based, and how much they cost.

Other benefits of the service include being an accessible,
jargon-free experience. “Generally, therapist directories are
very much: ‘I’m a registered cognitive whatever’ and people
don’t really give a shit about that, and don’t know what it
means anyway,” says Cham. “So we’re getting rid of all that
and making each therapist’s profile much more personal.”

Users can then contact and have a dialogue with therapists,
before proceeding with any formal treatment. “It’s been quite
complicated but we’ve developed the site in such a way that
any conversation between users and therapists through the
site is completely confidential,” says Cham. “It has nothing
to do with us and we can’t see it – that [level of privacy]
was really important to me.”

ID: 8156920

5.
Healthcare professionals are in favour of the app.

Healthcare professionals are in favour of the app.

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Michael Opoku Forfieh

“This is a very exciting project that totally needs to be
done, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been thought of before,”
says Michael Opoku-Forfieh, a forensic mental health
practitioner in London.

“What Sait has identified is that if you come from a black
perspective or nationality, you don’t always get the support
you may be specifically requesting,” he adds. “With IAPT
[NHS-funded psychological therapies programme] you literally
get anyone, and they might not have the experience or
knowledge to support you and your identity very well,
alongside the mental illness you might be presenting.”

ID: 8156935

6. But
getting men to sign up to the app is still a challenge.

But getting men to sign up to the app is still a challenge.

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Recovr

While Recovr has only just fully launched, people have been
able to register their interest with the site since December
2015. In the three months since that time, it’s had more than
1,000 subscribers. However, Cham explains, “men’s
participation is concerningly low.”

“I believe a lot of men genuinely think they are fine, so the
idea of therapy or counselling doesn’t appear as an option,”
says Levy. “The men who do know they need help, fear they may
be ostracised by friends and family if they were to open up
about their issues.”

Jacob Allen*, who has undergone counselling, Cognitive
Behavioural Therapy, and medication courses for his own
mental health problems, agrees: “As a man there are things I
feel funny letting anyone know about myself – I guess it’s an
ego thing. We are meant to be strong homemakers and
protectors and I don’t feel comfortable showing my vulnerable
side to people.”

ID: 8156947

7. Recovr
wants to help support users who may be reluctant to engage
with mental health services through traditional means.

Recovr wants to help support users who may be reluctant to engage with mental health services through traditional means.

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Recovr

While the specific stats vary considerably, research shows
black men in Britain are more likely than their white
counterparts to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness. These
severe mental health issues are often picked up after an
arrest, where coercive treatment – medication/sedation –
usually follows. Earlier engagement, therefore, is needed.

“If it’s not addressed, there will be many, many people who
may go into prison, who may kill themselves, and who may have
long-term drug or alcohol-dependency issues,” says
Opoku-Forfieh. “It’s not a silver bullet-type experience
where you can load your gun and with one shot kill the beast,
but Sait has certainly hit upon something that is absolutely
massive.”

ID: 8156971

8. “I want
young black people who are going through depression or
anxiety to recognise Recovr as the place to go, by default,
without even thinking about it,” says Cham.

And while the service is currently London-focused, the
intention is to spread nationwide. Birmingham and Nottingham
have strong networks of black mental healthcare
professionals, says Cham, so both cities are forerunners for
the next Recovr locations.

The long-term aim, however, is not to exist at all. “I want
the problem to be solved. The NHS and government has to
recognise that people want full flexibility when it comes to
who they see [for help],” says Cham. “And schools, and other
systems you’d expect to have the responsibility to highlight
issues, family included, aren’t picking up on it.”

Levy agrees that earlier education is crucial.

“I just didn’t have the opportunities to talk about mental
health with my parents or siblings, it wasn’t in our
day-to-day language,” he says. “I think the earlier you
expose children to the concept of exploring their feelings
and getting them to into the habit, the better results we’ll
see later on in life.”

ID: 8156979



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