Welcome to my latest unpaid carers blog for May 2021. As you might already know, this website focuses heavily on mental health unpaid carers. What I mean is the focus is on families and friends caring/supporting someone who suffers from mental illness.
I run many peer support groups and forums that bring unpaid carers together. The groups are carer led, but try to work with the mental health and social care services. This helps to give unpaid carers a voice and also a chance to understand the complex mental health, health and social care system.
As we all know service users or lived experienced have a range of avenues to express their voice and I guess that is important because they need to, after all they are using the mental health services and the quality of their lives and wellbeing is often tested. All I ask is that friends, families and those emotionally tied to mental health survivors should not be forgotten.
Unfortunately this needs to not only extend to mental health unpaid carers, but those from ethnic communities. Drill down deeper and you will find different levels of quality amongst ethnic unpaid carers. Usually black unpaid carers tend to struggle as their loved ones fair worse off in regards to mental health services.
Below is just some key factors.
- Black men were more likely than their White counterparts to experience a psychotic disorder.
- Large numbers of black people more likely than average to use high end mental health services.
- Detention rates under the Mental Health Act higher for people in the ‘Black’ or ‘Black British’ group than those in the ‘White’ group.
- Even with higher detention rates, the outcomes for black service users are still overwhelmingly poor.
- Suicide rates are higher among young men of Black African, Black Caribbean origin, possibly due to other complex factors being :-
- Access to quality services
- Mental health stigma
With all the above mentioned, it does not take long to see the impact filter down to black families and unpaid mental carers. The strain is increasing and black unpaid mental health carers tend to just shrug their shoulders and cope with it all, as they have been trying to cope with complex inequalities while pushing back to avoid the outcomes their loved ones experience. It does not take long for a BAME mental health carer to cross that line to BAME mental health survivor….if they survive that long.
As an unpaid carer, I have experienced the hard road many BAME carers have faced and this is why formed and pushed for connections with many other BAME carers, they do not have to be black as other ethnic carers can find solidarity and identitfy unpaid mental health carers face.
There is still stigma, predjudice, discrimination and inequalities in society, a lot of things have changed and some things have improved, but it would be foolish to ignore the impact of race and mental health.
The candle needs to burn at both ends as BAME mental health carers need to come together and share their experience with the mental health, health and social care services on what is working and what needs to work.
If you are a BAME mental health carer, check out my online BAME carer groups below.