Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carers forum. The forum is aimed at black Afo-Caribbean, Asian and other minorities carers in the borough of Lewisham, however I am happy for other carers in surrounding boroughs to attend. The forum is run from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind centre under the arm of Community Wellbeing.
The forum is more educational and allows carers to discuss with mental health service providers any queries about services. A high majority of the BAME community use mental health services and some of the issues are specific regarding race, culture and even language. The issues are complex and deep, but discussions, forming relationships, education and working together is the way forward.
For the February forum we were blessed to have an outreach ad support service engage with the forum. The service was called OASIS and they kindly provided a workshop for the members of the forum. OASIS is a mental health service for young people (14-35 years old), living in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon. They provide support for up to two years, for people struggling with experiences like hearing voices or feeling paranoid.
OASIS ran a workshop for the forum, which was on ‘Psychosis and Unusual Experiences’. Many members of the forum in the past often asked for more education on psychosis. The members wondered how Psychosis affects the person they care for. So I was really glad that OASIS stepped in and provided a lovely workshop for us.
I was amazed to see that OASIS came along with a patient to tell her story, which I thought was inspiring and left a great impression on me. It showed there is always hope no matter how difficult things became.
Back to the presentation and workshop. OASIS talked us through how broad the definition of Psychosis really is, but they broke down that term into a number of factors.
The presentation looked at how sufferers could get
- Confusion and changes in thoughts
- Changes in speech
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling like something controlling them
- Experiencing upsetting thoughts
- Paranoid thoughts and ideas
- Deterioration in physical health
- and a lot more.
This is not to say those who experience psychosis had all of the symptoms, but they are common among those affected by psychosis.
The presentation moved on to explaining the Early warning signs. This part of the presentation was so vital for carers as not all carers are alert to when someone if beginning to relapse or fall unwell.
Some of the signs were.
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite changes
- Memory and concentration problems
Again, its not like the person experience all the signs, but maybe some occur when the person becomes unwell. These early signs then eventually change to more difficult experiences shown below
- Changes in perception – seeing/hearing things
- Paranoid or suspicious thoughts
- Unusual thoughts
- High sense of threat
- Change in behaviour and functioning
So eventually the above then leads to full blown psychosis. I was amazed how well the group explained things so easy and I wished more members turned up to view the talk.
It was not always talking to the forum, we also did some fun quizzes to test our knowledge. Then we heard from the service user experiences. There was many thought provoking questions from the forum members which centered on cultural awareness and understand, but I still feel that the BAME community must also make steps to engage with services and not wait till someone becomes so unwell that they is no choice but to provide MH care.
No one likes things being done to them, so there must be some focus on what services we can use before we get into a situation where services are forced on us.
More information on OASIS can be found from their website which is https://www.meandmymind.nhs.uk/
I have decided to advertise the event off eventbrite as well as getting support from SLaM to place up posters on their wards and out in the community. I cannot thank SLaM enough for being very supportive of the forum and continuing to engage with the BAME community.
For those who may not know, the Oxleas, SLaM and SWLSTG Mental Health trusts are working heavily with the community to update what they are doing for their BAME staff. I am glad the services is using this forum to engage with the community since diverse communities often query about staff and not always the service themselves.
To book for March forum, the link is below.
This concludes the update for the February Lewisham BAME MH carers forum