Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum July 2017

handsWelcome to the update for July 2017 of the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. This is the first BME Mental Health forum for carers in this borough. The forum is run in conjunction with Family Health ISIS who provide community support for those in mental distress and also advocate for their unpaid carers.

To watch the video update, please click on the video below.

The forum chaired by myself examined how the forum should take place and why such a forum should exist. In the discussion it was clear that we feel we have no idea how many BME Carers in Lewisham. We also feel that perhaps there is limited influence BME carers have on Mental Health services.

Mental Health BME carers need some empowerment in their role and hopefully the forum can be a physical platform to allow such carers to engage and empower themselves.

There of course is a large community BME in the London borough of Lewisham. Plus with a history of discrimination, stigma and lack of understanding of mental health, which BME communities can experience, the forum wishes to investigate what causes such issues and how could they be tackled.

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Other reasons for the creation of the BME carers forum is that a high rate of the BME community using the mental health services. We unfortunately do not know the number, so we should query data, which Healthwatch could provided some assistance.

The reasons for the forum are numerous, so I could not list them all down, however lastly there has been several studies and research requiring input from BME communities, but with minimal reach. Why?

Questions and issues

Some questions were raised during the forum e.g.

  • What is the quality improvement for BME carers?
  • Who is monitoring the data?
  • Plus there should be a breakdown of the data.

A Lot of the discussion focused on the stigma experienced by BME lived experienced and their carers. We all told stories of what it was like to be a BME Mental Health carer and stigma was a common theme.

We felt lack of education and information on what mental health means could be affecting the BME community. There also needs to be a range of mental health education for young BME groups, but the forum wondered how this is going to progress.

One thing, which the forum members felt was that there seems to be an issue with mental health jargon. The theme kept occurring when exploring BME mental health carer issues.

We looked at who should engaged with the forum and due to browsing through the “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM 2014” – The Equality Manager, Organisation and Community SLaM was suggested.

Also the Senior Associate, Equality & Diversity at Lewisham CCG was suggested, but we also need to continue to grow the forum, which must feed for FHI carer support groups.

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