Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer & Service User forum. I know it is a mouthful of a forum name, but I hope it explains fully the forums purpose. Out of all the 4 forums I participate in, this forum is specialised for BME members who often can face a double stigma of identity, neglect and mental health needs.
The forum runs once a month at Family Health ISIS, which is a charity that focuses specifically on African & Caribbean needs in the community. With lack of funding comes difficulty in outreach for those struggling with mental health needs. In fact on my way to the forum I found several unfortunately BME people on the streets clearing struggling with mental health needs and I often wonder what support or engagement they are getting.
The forum had a good turn out because we have SLaM’s diversity lead explaining her role and engaging with the members of the forum. She told the members about what the trust aims to provide regarding BME members from across the 4 boroughs and listened to us on what works on our journey through psychological therapy and what does not work.
Some of the feedback was on race and Identity.
Problems in reinventing the wheel.
Tracing back issues via family tree structure.
Assessments not flagging up mental health needs in order to access services.
Increasing communication to GPs, Churches, Mosques and community groups.
How people need to be involved and sharing power with those wanting to shape services.
The members of the forum hope SLaM’s diversity lead comes back to work with us on tackling such issues.
During the forum, I was happy to see Lewisham CCG turn up and take notes since they were interested in what was going on. They will get back to me later, but I am happy they are becoming more involved.
We also had a healthy eating session from Healthwatch Lewisham who spent a good hour speaking to members about what foods contain, how foods can be categorised and we also spent time making a healthy fruit kebab.
All of the food was provided by Lewisham Tesco, which helps organisations strengthen community spirit and involvement. The forum members appreciated healthwatch Lewisham’s healthy eating workshop and they have been very good in engaging with the BME forum.
This concludes the update for the Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU forum.