South Asian Young People’s Mental Health Project


The South Asian Young People’s Mental Health Project is being undertaken to implement sustainable systems to improve the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people in the South Asian community of the Hodge Hill Ward in the city of Birmingham.

The research conducted that led to this project’s existence showed that there is a large number of young people in this diverse and youthful city, who are not accessing early intervention services to support their mental health and wellbeing. This leaves them at risk of crisis, and potentially has long-term implications on their life chances. The research also found that there was a deep-rooted stigma associated with mental health in this community, particularly among young men.


This project works with 5 Secondary schools in the Hodge Hill ward


You are able to see the location of those schools on the interactive map below.

The primary aim is to improve community attitudes to mental health and wellbeing, and forge lasting relationships between schools, community organisations, and families to ensure continued support for young people in the area and will run from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2023.




The Research & Proposal

For several years, concerns have been expressed locally (CCG Commissioners 2018) and nationally (Chief Medical Officers Report 2013, CYP Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce 2014) regarding the under representation of Muslim Young People within the service populations of mental and emotional health services. This is of particular significance within Birmingham given the large proportion of the population that has a Pakistani Muslim heritage within a context of a young and super diverse population.

The Research

Local research was undertaken that involved surveys, consultation and interviews with young people, their parents and other stakeholders including service providers. This was combined with a review of research and an examination of service data. The research identified the challenges experienced by a largely Muslim and Pakistani population of young people resident in the Hodge Hill ward area of Birmingham in accessing and engaging with services. 

The Children’s Society research published in 2018 was commissioned by Birmingham and Solihull CCG it identified both the issues and possible solutions for South Asian Young People emotional and mental health.  The research had adopted an iterative approach where the perspectives of different stakeholders were relayed to others to inform their discussions.  The research began with a web-based survey of young people from a South Asian background, which in turn informed the work with focus groups of young people in schools, with parents (largely mothers) in the community and interviews with significant reference points including clinical and nursing staff, community leaders and voluntary and community groups. This material was collated, and the themes played back to young people and parents who had recently graduated from a parenting programme delivered in the community.

The responses from young people, parents and other were consistent there is significant stigma associated with emotional and mental health that is rooted in the attitudes of the community, relating to ‘Izzat’ (concept of family honour or respect in Pakistani populations) which influences both the young people and their parents. As a result, all young people identified seeking help as contrary to their communities’ expectations of them and young men in particular saw seeking help as a sign of weakness inconsistent with their ideal image. Young people’s health seeking behaviour was impaired by a lack of understanding about the nature of the available services and a lack of belief in the efficacy of them.  Young people also had a lack of confidence in their parent’s capacity or willingness to seek help – In short Young people loved and respected their parents but felt that fathers were more likely to consider an emotional or mental health problem something to be dealt with in the family, not an external agency and that mothers were not aware of the services offered. This was consistent with the parent’s estimation of their capacity and capability to help which when surveyed was lower than national surveys of all parents and of BME parents (DFE 2017).

The Proposal

In March 2017 following the consideration of this research the Birmingham Education Partnership, a charity led by Head Teachers which champions improved educational outcomes in Birmingham through partnership working, has led the development of a proposal building on the solutions put forward by young people and their parents that will tackle this issue in a sensitive way that has long-lasting, sustainable impact.

This proposal has been informed by further work with young people and parents to add additional detail to the service models and to reflect on the design work completed by the community organisations and other partners.

Six organisations have been instrumental in forming a task and finish group that has enabled this proposal to be created. You are able to visit their website’s by clicking on the logo’s.


We also worked with our group of schools, most closely with Saltley Academy and Washwood Heath Academy, throughout the construction of the proposal.