The first national training initiative to involve black and minority ethnic service users in its development and delivery has been launched by the Department of Health as part of its delivering race equality in mental healthcare programme.

The race equality and cultural capability programme aims to help mental health staff develop their understanding of racism, cultural difference and discrimination and to develop skills to promote race equality and identify and break down barriers to good communication between BME service users and mental health practitioners.

'These materials are a key component of the delivering race equality programme and will support mental health professionals in providing care and support that fully meets the needs of BME patients,' says national clinical director for mental health Louis Appleby.

'The close involvement of BME service users is unique, and this will ensure that their concerns are at the forefront of training and the promotion of racial equality.'

The race equality and cultural capability programme consists of 12 one and a half to two-hour sessions and 12 workplace tasks, with materials designed for multi-disciplinary training and staff with varying degrees of qualification. Materials were tested in four pilot areas this year.

Tailor-made

Premila Trivedi, a service user involved in delivering the training in the pilot programmes, said: 'The breadth and flexibility of the materials allows each training course to be tailored to address the specific needs and concerns of local communities.'

The materials have been developed by the National Institute for Mental Health in England, in conjunction with the Department of Health as part of its 10 essential shared capabilities programme.

Consultant psychiatrist at Walsall teaching primary care trust Dr S Afghan participated in the pilot training programme. He says: 'I strongly feel that if the concepts of the RECC material are integrated into mental health and psychiatry training, there are likely to be far better outcomes and satisfaction levels for BME service users.'

To download the RECC programme materials for free, click here

More information cultural capability training will appear on Working Lives online on December 20.