Background to our work

Why do we need the FS2T programme?

From Surviving to Thriving’ project (FS2T) emerges from the fact that Black people living in Britain are three to four times more likely to be in-patients in mental health hospitals, and yet they are under-represented in services for mild and moderate mental health.
Mental health is a spectrum and ‘surviving’ refers to those stages on the spectrum when we are not ill but at the same time we are not growing healthily and flourishing.

The usefulness of ‘surviving’

Ironically, the very coping strategies that have enabled people from the various Black communities to survive the harsh environments and extreme social ills faced in the past also act as barriers to their personal development and stop them from thriving. For generations, people from these backgrounds used these survival strategies to help them negotiate the difficult situations faced. In more recent times these internalised coping mechanisms enabled people to ‘get-by’- despite the extreme challenges that migration posed to families; and the experiences of discrimination, inequality, and social exclusion.

The challenge of ‘surviving’

Survival strategies suppress feelings of disappointment, detachment, helplessness and hopelessness, and enable people to function, sometimes at quite high levels, despite a loss of identity, low self-confidence and self-esteem. These coping mechanisms help people keep going but when left unattended, they not only stop people from growing healthily and thriving but they also often reduce mental wellbeing. Often, these survival strategies include conscious and unconscious self-harming processes such as risky sexual behaviors; abuse of drugs and alcohol; suicidal ideas and practices and may lead to mental health problems.

FS2T: a valuable contribution to an age old social problem

It is well-recognised that mental ill-health is very costly – financially, socially, individually and to families, and that there is great wisdom in prevention. Therefore, the FS2T project with its capacity for disrupting stigma; breaking taboos; educating about the signs of diminishing mental wellbeing and helping people to learn how to thrive – even in adverse and hard situations – is an invaluable contribution – not only to the communities it serves but to the whole of society.