Our last day here at BCU wrapped up with group presentations on all of the new information that we’ve learned through our lectures and further research. Leading up to the presentation, I was a mixture of nervous and excited to share our findings. Starting with our original overlying topic, most of our original inquiry questions were able to be answered, and only some of the questions had their focus shifted because we were unable to find data that used the metrics we were looking for.
The first group to present for the day was Kayla, Courtney, Abbie, and Mary on mental health services. I was quite interested in the topic of their presentation because mental health is a field that has become more and more prevalent, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. I was really surprised to learn that many general practitioners would prescribe medication for patients during the 18 week wait they had to endure before getting to see a mental health professional, and that these medications were not always appropriate or accurate to the issue at hand. In addition, I had heard that the male suicide rate was quite high, but I did not know that it was 2 to 3 times higher in men than women in the UK. That statistic is honestly so chilling to see, and it all stems from sexist stereotypes and gender expectations that force men to ignore their emotions. The group also introduced some of the mental health resources available here in Birmingham, such as PAUSE and Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). PAUSE is an organization under the umbrella of Forward Thinking Birmingham and is NHS funded, providing free resources for people ages 0 to 25. Another comparison that I found interesting was the prevalence of counselors and school psychologists in the US, but an uncommon presence of social workers in schools. Luckily, many pilot programs are starting to run that provide social workers as a resource for students to look to. I was happy to hear that England hopes to create an emergency mental health line by 2023, and I can only imagine the great impacts of it.
The next group to present was my own. I felt that the presentation went very well, and I was happy with my own presentation skills. The presentation felt much stronger than our pre-departure slides, as we were able to provide thorough research and analyze what it meant, giving the data context. When we were doing our research, I was most surprised by the lack of testing accommodations throughout the UK for older children, despite the very diverse population throughout the country, and the severe lack of healthcare resources for immigrants within the United States. 80 days is such a short time to have temporary insurance coverage, and it is quite difficult to find the way to afford private care so quickly.
The third group was Lauren, Desire, Asyah, and Reagan, who presented on racial disparities. I found their presentation to be so profound and relatable, especially with their anecdotal experience about a lack of POC mentors throughout their schooling. A lot of causes of racial disparities do come from a general distrust between communities and professionals. These reasons range from a history of sterilization and utilization for medical experiments in the US to disproportionate COVID deaths and general mistreatment in the UK. A statistic that they presented which I really found notable was that only 3.5% of head nurses in the NHS were black and ethnic minorities. This really called to attention the gaps in opportunities for career development and a lack of representation for students. I was happy to hear that England was putting interventions in place to help lower these disparities, and hopes that the US follows suit in expanding curriculum to teach about health concerns that were specific to racial groups.
The final presentation group was Alec and Connor! I loved that they talked about sexism and pink collar jobs, especially since their perspective as men gave them a unique look at the areas of nursing and education. Before their presentation, I had always noticed, but never knew just how female dominated certain professions were. The idea of representation was also brought back up, as a lot of service users did not see themselves represented in the systems, making them less likely to pursue the career. Something that really shocked me was the deviation in leadership, where female dominated areas were still being headed by men. Imagine my shock when I found out that 82% of hospital CEOs are male, and yet 66% of male hospital CEOs have minimal to no experience. This lack of connection between higher ups and their workers is really creating a distrust of the system. I really am passionate about the idea that students need to see people that look like them in higher positions in order to be motivated to become them, and I hope I can be that person one day.
Although everyone was extremely nervous going into our presentations, I feel that we all did so well! Despite having a range of topics, I loved that all of our projects found a way to be interconnected, ranging from issues of accessibility to representation. It was a great example of all that we’ve learned on this trip, and I am so beyond proud of all my peers!