Welcome to a brief update of my BAME carers forum for June. The BAME carers forum is an online forum aimed at those who care for someone suffering mental illness, except the forum covers ethnic experiences regarding caring along with discussions on how serious mental illness affects minorities and diverse communities.
For June 2021 the speakers were
- Faith Smith (carer) on her Section 136 project
- Keisha York from BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology
- Sharon Jennings of Goldsmiths University
- Emma James Senior Policy Advisor at Barnardo’s
Faith Smith Presents on her Section 136 project
Faith started off explaining how she became a carer, which led to her being a carer advocate due to being involved at South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust, which led to her joining their involvement register. She was introduced to the involvement register a care coordinator, which she does interview panels, sit on focus groups, training with staff and joining trust values day, which is a staff induction day.
Faith Smith has now been asked to chair and set up a group that is going to be PAN London group. Its aim is to explore section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Section 136 Mental is where the police have the power to remove a person from a public place, if they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder disorder and move them to a place of safety.
The place of safety could be a hospital, although often the outcomes have not been as they should be, and in past experiences there have been tragic events involving the police and those in mental distress. So the idea is that this group that she is going to be setting up, is going to be a solution focus group. The group is going to be made up of experts by experience to be either carers or service users. Where the aim is going to be to map the journey of Section 136. So if an individual has that map, then the journey will be looking at what improvements could be made. So here we can see what outcomes could have been different along the way at each stage, from being someone first becoming unwell to the police being called to then take the person to a place of safety, the hospital or the police station or wherever? And then the outcome how could that experience have been made better? So it’s to identify improvement. Faith wanted to see if members could be involved or at least spread the word.
A question from a carer member queried if 136 was going to be split into two sections where one is for other people or older adults?
Sharon Jennings from Goldsmith university Sociology course presents
Sharon was excited to hear how carers can set up research groups. This was in regards to Faith’s presentation. Sharon mentioned that at Goldsmiths university also have an experts by experience group. This group is for the Social Work courses, and they do a lot of teaching. The experts are involved in the admissions of students, looking at policies and much more. Sharon was happy to ask if forum members were interested of being part of that group or at least being involved with the group, it’s really about developing terms of new social workers, as in social work students on the awareness of service user/carer issues and understanding how to speak to people that use services.
One of the things Sharon wanted to talk about was on the inequalities of social care and racial inequality in social work, but mainly from the position of practitioners. Sharon wanted to point out the kinds of challenges for black Social Work practitioners. She was not sure if most people at my BAME carers forum would have had some kind of contact with a social workers, either in one way or another good, bad or indifferent. Sharon wanted to start with the importance of social work from the students perspective and the experience of black students or black and ethnic minority students.
Sharon mentioned some research done between 2009 and 2012, which was published in 2014. It was asking black and ethnic minority students about almost about their experiences on social work programs in the UK. People felt like they were in an uninhabitable terrain, being on a course of social work or degree course. It was hard to be themselves. It was hard to breathe, it was hard to relax. It was hard to feel that they belong there. They felt that they were climbing and climbing, but not being appreciated, not being valued.
Sharon felt the students found it really difficult to open up about how they felt. We expect our social experience from day one to start talking about their lives, the backgrounds, family, their relationships, their everything in order to talk about there experiences. People don’t feel comfortable on day one doing that, trust has to build up. So people felt that they weren’t equipped for this, because when they did share their own particular cultural learnings or teachings or their background, it wasn’t understood, it wasn’t valued and sometimes it was criticized.
Sharon feels it’s about what people’s life circumstances are like. So for instance, many black social work students have to continue to work. They can’t wait to take time off. There aren’t any bursaries until the second and third year, so the very first year they don’t have money even if they may have caring responsibilities, family responsibilities. So to conclude social work students have a difficult time especially those from black backgrounds.
You can find more about Sharon’s talk via her Youtube discussion.
Emma James from Barnardo’s presents on BAME young carers
Emma from Barnardo’s started her discussion on questioning on the importance the lives of all children and young people who should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. Emma mentioned that young carers are part of the millions of unpaid carers in the UK providing care and support for a relative. Some young carers take on their caregiving responsibilities as young as four years old. Others do over 30 hours of caring a week and on top of attending school or college. Emma stated that firsthand the impact caring has on their mental health and well-being is staggering with many suffering from depression, isolation and anxiety. So the children Barnaro’s work with and many others across the country are sacrificing their childhoods and their futures. All this by having no choice but to drop out of school or actively choosing not to go to university or college due to their caring responsibilities.
Emma also pointed out that the BBC did a survey a couple of years ago, which estimated that there are probably over 800,000 young carers in the UK today. So Barnardo’s runs 20 services across the UK that support young young people care for relatives who have a disability or illness mental health condition or drug or alcohol problem. Last year, Barnardo’s worked with 330 500 young carers and their families. Barnardo’s also support many other children and young people in their services who also have caring responsibilities. So in Barnardo’s mental health services they run domestic abuse support services, which will often uncover if these children also Young carers.
Around five years ago Emma did an indepth research with the young carers they support and found that the impact the caring was having on their lives was really significant. The young carers Barnardo’s supports often spent over 20 hours a week caring for their relatives, most commonly their mothers, they often care for siblings as well as parents. These sorts of things Emma found they were doing was cooking, cleaning, administering medication, washing, shopping, helping the cost of siblings providing mental health support.
Banardos campaigned in 2014 around Children and Families Act in the Care Act, which gave local authorities a duty to assess young carers. So this led to more referrals for young carers, but often there isn’t the support once young carers are assessed. There’s often waiting lists for support and in terms of outcomes for young carers, they’re more likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET), they’re more likely to be bullied at schools and more likely to have poor mental health, loneliness and isolation. Young carers end up with lower grades in school, and they’re more likely to come from BAME communities. Whilst Emma was doing her research across all of their young carers services, it was really clear something that stood out for her, this was that young carers from minority communities had additional pressures and stresses that statutory services were not aware of and they weren’t being supported.
The most important thing that Barnardos do is they help the family get more support from social services so that young carers don’t have to do so much supportive work. Barnardos talk to young carers school so teachers understand their situation and can be supportive. Plus Barnardo’s give young carers advice and emotional support through counseling sessions.
Here is a link to one of Barnardo’s reports on BAME young carers.
Keisha York from BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology presents
Keisha York the founder and director of BAME in Psychiatry & Psychology network (BiPPN) wanted to say is it’s been a pleasure, to be invited to my forum again. She was interested just to hear a lot about how BAME carers and the sort of difficulties carers are experiencing. Keisha was just going to focus on providing updates about what the BIPP network is doing and what they would loved to do. Keisha felt that in hindsight and listening to the group, she would have wanted to give some more data and statistics on some of the issues raised on the colonization of the curriculum or representation, but Keisha felt that might be perhaps a part two or part three, because this is the second time they have been invited to my BAME carers forum.
The BiPPN are a registered social enterprise and low profit organization since September 2019, and they are led by mental health professionals and students in medicine in psychology, who aim to prioritize, lots of representation of black psychology. The BiPPN also provide such a community for individuals from racialized backgrounds, both registered and prospective mentor professionals to acquire social, emotional, psychological and developmental support. Whilst the BiPPN do focus on psychiatry and psychology, they do recognize that actually, this has been a really good source of support space and community for anyone who is a mental health professional. So the BiPPN encourage anyone really to join our network and be a part of it and attend the events that they do. So how do the BiPPN achieve this aim of prioritizing and advancing the representation of racialized groups in those professions?
The BIPPN provide insight, guidance and knowledge on access in psychiatry and psychology. The BiPPN focus on this primarily because they are aware of the issues. Keisha feels as someone mentioned earlier, these issues have been discussed for years around what are the barriers to individuals accessing these careers (Sharon’s presentation on the problems BAME students face studying sociology).
The BiPPN want to learn and focus on how they can equip these aspiring psychologists with the skills to actually navigate through those barriers, and actually be more equipped to address some of them as they progress in their careers. The BiPPN also increase the exposure to learning and discussion of cross cultural and race related psychological theory practices and research.
Keisha is aware about colonized curriculum that only addresses the mental health of white Eurocentric individuals. So what the BiPPN aims to do is increase the exposure of models, approaches and theories which relate more to how black and racialized groups experience the world as reality, plus how they suffer from mental health issues. Lastly, the BiPPN explores the various approaches to addressing black and ethnic monetize groups in mental health and racial disparities and mental health care. So the BiPPN events are attended and are hosted by a range of speakers, both psychiatrists and psychologists. The BiPPN increase exposure to that knowledge to either aspiring or current practitioners. So they know how to address this within the NHS and in their various workforces.
For more information about the BiPPN please see link below.
This concludes the BAME mental health carer forum update for June