Category Archives: Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum

Ethnic mental health Carer Forum August 2022

Welcome to a quick update from one of my carer groups. This one is from the August gathering of the online Ethnic BAME mental health carer forum. A group that focuses on ethnic mental health carers, diversity, race and mental health. I am being a bit naughty since I have not done an update on my groups for some months (busy working on a few things as usual).

We were lucky to have the following speakers attend for August 2022

  • Dr Karen Jutlla (Dementia Lead for the Institute of Health at the University of Wolverhampton) on Race and Dementia
  • Faith Nyandoro (Senior Lecturer) – impact of culturally and personally tailored music and singing interventions
  • Dr Sheila Hardy​ (GP, Carer and Primary Care Mental Health Trainer) – Parity of Esteem
  • Melanie Crew (Senior Policy and Research Officer at Carers UK) – Carers UK campaign updates

  • Dr Karen Jutlla presents to the group

Dr Karen started out by stating what her current role is being the dementia lead at the University of Wolverhampton. She talked about her research interests which has been on going for 15 years looking at dementia care and ethnic minorities, and what research she can do to improve care. The research then feeds into her teaching. This is where she feels responsible for overseeing all the dementia education on the courses she teaches. Dr Karen mentioned lot of her work is about supporting services, healthcare workers and policy makers to make sure that their services are culturally inclusive.

Karen then pointed out that she invited her PhD students Faith along to the ethnic MH carer forum, because she thought we would be interested in the work that she’s doing. Plus it would be a fabulous opportunity for Faith to get our feedback. This is because the group is seen as people with experts by experience, and Faith is looking at music therapy and the African Caribbean community for people living with dementia and what the benefits of such a creative therapy can be.

To hear more about Dr Karan’s work, check out her website – https://drjutlla.com/

  • Faith Nyandoro presents on music therapy for dementia project

It was now Faith’s turn to present as she mentioned her supervisor is looking at her research interest in dementia and music therapy for people living with people living in the Afro Caribbean community.

Faith pointed out that it is a qualitative study. And the topic is to explore “the impact of culturally and personally tailored Music”. Plus also seeing individual the health and well-being of people living with dementia from black, African Caribbean background.

The group started to ask a few questions on what it means, where Faith explained that they where looking at different types of music in which she also listened to from the Afro Caribbean community, but also Africans include music such as Calypso, Afro beats, reggae and so on to see if that has an impact on the health and well being of people living with dementia.

Faith mentioned what Karen was talking about, in that there’s been different interventions to manage Dementia, and some of the interventions that have come up have been political interventions and medical interventions, using drugs available to treat dementia. There also have been some non pharmacological interventions using therapies that being reality orientations and validation, CBT, and so on. Faith stated that unfortunately pharmacological interventions although good, can come with side effects. So with this, the government really pressing on to looking at non-pharmacological interventions. These interventions may not really need the use of drugs. It can improve the health and well being of people living in the moment with dementia.

Faith continued by stating that few black Caribbean people have access to these non pharmacological interventions. So a critical aspect of supporting people with dementia, particularly people from BME communities is by developing interventions that are meaningful and culturally sensitive. And so in terms of music, which is her area of interest, you can find that the interventions that are out there, should be specifically tailored for people. Just as it is for Caucasian people.

Faith then talked about the different types of music interventions that are out there and what the research has a found out, so researchers suggest that people who engage in arts and health problems are at lower risk of dying and are more likely to report good health. This is because the role of art and music in supporting the patient well-being is increased and being recognised.

The way Faith will work on her research is discussing with participants about their memories, thoughts and feelings and about the music. And this will take about 20 minutes. At the end of the nine weeks. She will then carry out that same assessment that she spoke about with the group earlier. She wants to look at the dementia mood and the quality of life. Where Faith will measure the differences.

Faith then arranged a quick workshop session with the group focusing on her project.

  • Dr Sheila Hardy​ presents on Parity of Esteem

Dr Shelia was next to present, she was happy to see our group feedback on the previous presentation. Shelia mentioned her PhD was on physical health and mental illness, where she was trying to show how important it is to check physical health in primary care. Most of her research was about the impact of training the trainers, training nurses and on the health of people with severe mental illness.

Shelia also spoke about her own caring duties as she is caring for dementia. It was tricky for Shelia to present due to her caring role, but we were appreiciative that she engaged with the ethnic carer group.

There is high interest on why people with severe mental illness (SMI) are more likely to have the following, which Dr Shelia presented on:

  • Why those with SMI’s Die prematurely
  • Have a preventable condition – respiratory disease, sexually transmitted infection, sexual dysfunction, obstetric complications, osteoporosis, cancer, dental problems, metabolic disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and raised cholesterol
  • Lead unhealthy lifestyles – smoke, eat a poor diet, have low levels of exercise, have a high alcohol intake, misuse drugs, engage in unsafe sex
  • Experience diagnostic overshadowing
  • Be prescribed medication which may have a negative effect on physical health, e.g. antipsychotic
  • Live in poverty

Since this forum is an ethnic minority carer forum. Dr Shelia spoke on the following regarding how SMI’s impacted on ethnic minority groups.

  • In England, there are health inequalities between ethnic minority and white groups, * and between different ethnic minority groups
  • Access to primary care health services is equitable for ethnic minority groups, but less consistent across other health services
  • People from ethnic minority groups are more likely to report being in poorer health and to report poorer experiences of using health services than their white counterparts
  • People from the Gypsy or Irish Traveller, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities have the poorest health outcomes across a range of indicators
  • Compared with the white population, disability-free life expectancy is estimated to be lower among several ethnic minority groups
  • Rates of infant and maternal mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes are higher among Black and South Asian groups
  • Mortality from cancer, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, is highest among white groups

Half way through Dr Shelia’s presentation there were a few questions where Shelia explained Why people with mental illness have poor physical health

  • Genetics – low HDL, raised blood glucose, low lung function values
  • Poor motivation (due to their mental health problem)
  • Difficulty in concentration and planning (due to their mental health problem)
  • Less likely than the general population to receive support to change unhealthy behaviour
  • Less likely than the general population to receive medical examination and intervention
  • Physical symptoms often attributed to mental health problem so early intervention not offered

Lastly and most importantly Dr Shelia finished up on what actions can help to prevent health problems

  • Engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviours which include:
  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting adequate rest and relaxation
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Avoiding drugs and smoking
  • Safe sex
  • Maintaining physical personal care
  • Seeking medical care when required

Obviously there are more things that can combat the problem of paraity of esteem, but this is a start to educate others on the challenges.

Dr Shelia Hardy has a book out if interested Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for nurses and healthcare professionals working with adults in primary care

  • Melanie Crew presents updates from Carer’s UK

Next to present and engage with our ethnic carer group was Melanie who is the Senior Research Officer from Carers UK. She Thanked us for giving her the opportunity to present Carers UK updates.

Carers UK is a national carer’s charity fighing and supporting millions of carers for the UK. They campaign heavily for Carer’s rights and carer awareness.

Melanie spoke on a few updates on what Carers UK have been working on. She mentioned that they have their annual survey running at the moment, which is called “state of caring”. This is where they asked carers quite a lot of questions about their experiences. So it covers issues like “cost of living”, “delays with accessing health care” and other recurring themes like mental health, employment and technology.

Melanie mentioned that it’s really important that they know what carers are struggling with, otherwise they can’t claim to campaign on behalf of people fighting to provide care. Surveys are an important tool because if they are not listening to carers, and asking them what they want or what they need. Then carers will continue to struggle.

Even at the time, they have not had loads of responses, especially responses from ethnic minority carers. So Carers UK are trying to contact lots of different organisations who work with ethnic minority carers, and also try to share the survey with them.

Melanie raised the importance that it would be really great if any of us have the time to go though the survey, as the charity feel that the responses are really important to them.

Melanie then mentioned anothe project that Carers UK are working on called “Making carers count”. This is done in partnership with another national carers organisation called “Carers Trust”.

The project is looking at certain groups of carers that they know less about, so we kind of refer to them as underrepresented groups. This includes carers from ethnic minority backgrounds. So her role in that project is carrying out research which led to a published a research report about the experiences of ethnic minority carers during the pandemic.

Melanie updated on more research, ideas and campaigns from Carers UK, where members got the chance to ask questions and probe about projects. I appreciate Carers UK engaging with our ethnic mental health carers forum and look forward for more updates in the future.

Carers UK is working on a new campaign, if interested see the link below

New Prime Minister must act quickly for unpaid carers

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum April 2022

Hello fellow mental health carers. Have not blogged an update in a while regarding my carer forums. Probably due to being busy publishing my 3rd book on mental health carer poetry. More on that later. I have also been developing online courses aimed at mental health carers. I am now preparing to work on my 6th online course “caring for someone with a mental illness”.

Back to this blog update. This is an update from my monthly ethnic carer forum. A forum for those from ethnic backgrounds caring for someone with mental illness.

Speakers

  • Rev Dr Cameron Langlands – Head of Pastoral & Spiritual Care at South London & Maudsley
  • Carl Nando – Amenity Care update
  • Rubbia Ali – Black families involvement in new elearning.
  • Rev Dr Cameron Langlands – Head of Pastoral & Spiritual Care at South London & Maudsley

Did you know I also facilitate the West London NHS trust ethnic carers peer group? We recently had the Head of Pastoral care visit and engage with carers from the black community.

So it was great to have Rev Dr Cameron Langlands attend and engage with our community group. Dr Cameron looks after the chaplaincy service at South London and Maudsley. Dr Cameron takes care of service users who are inpatients and will often see people in community, but only if they are tied into the SLaM services. Dr Cameron would love to engage with more patients, but there are only three chaplains in the full time role. Plus they have four sites to cover, as well as some community settings.

They also have a part time Imam who works with them on a Tuesday. Plus a part time Deacon who works at ladywell unit over in Lewisham on Thursday.

Dr Cameron has been in the NHS now for just over 20 years in chaplaincy, and what they find particularly within mental health chaplaincy is that when people say they want a specific chaplain, often they don’t. Because they’re looking for is someone who is an appreciation as to where the patient is coming from. That would be who has the ability to sit and listen to them, especially on the difficult situation that they’re in. This is where the nursing staff are trained to do that, but unfortunately, they are often incredibly busy. So that allows those within the chaplaincy team to be able to augment the clinical team and do that.

The team are running a training program for transpersonal therapists who are in training. They focus on more spirituality based transpersonal side of things, and have to do 100 hours within psychiatric setting. So most of the work now has a chaplaincy volunteer as well. They can dovetail into the service.
The other thing they do is that they can offer volunteers in the befriending service that run via the volunteer coordinator as well. So they tie in with people in community who have either been discharged from service but still want that link or are being looked after by their GP or their community mental health team.

Dr Cameron has also asked for a befriender in a new service that runs twice a year, the befriender service is now online, the service can also be accessed in person. The course is ran over a 10 week period and it covers all aspects of mental health.

Dr Cameron mentioned that In South London, they have managed to secure funding from the from NHS England, and have started a bereaved suicide service, which is aimed at those who have been bereaved by suicide, or those who have been witnesses to suicide or attempted suicide. In that team, they have got a bereavement manager, two support workers and a couple of counselors, and they are the only service in the UK to have two community champions employed in that service reaching out to people on non faith based basis.

QUESTIONS FROM CARERS

  • Can there be a conflict on spiritual conversion regarding a patient’s faith?
  • How is spirituality being used as a way to be inclusive and, and bring out these outcomes to be more favorable towards those ethnic communities using those services?
  • Is there a spiritual and pastoral policy? Is it inclusive of families and carers?

  • Carl Nando updates on AmenityCare update

Next was Carl Nando’s turn to update the carer forum on his project Amenity care, which looks to support carers with a package for the person suffering ill health. Carl talked about how Mental health is one of the key pillars for Amenity Care and its clients.

Carl talked about the struggles he had in the past supporting his parents and the racism they experienced. Carl feels this is an issue for today. Carl mentioned how tough it was to provide that care and how it inspired him to set up his own business that focuses on advocacy and support for those suffering ill health.

Carl thinks it is very important to have more black own mental health businesses tailored to the community, but there are struggles and getting access to business support is difficult. There were lots of questions from carer members on how Carl can raise the awareness of black mental health and at the same time run a business.

  • Rubbia Ali presents on Black families involvement in new elearning project

Lastly it was Rubbia’s turn to present to the ethnic carers group. She is a research worker at King’s College London. She spoke about her current study where they just received funding and they are now working on a project tailored to black families. It is called Black families involvement in E-learning. This is being led by two psychologists at King’s College London, by Dr Valentina Cardi and Dr Juliana Onwumere.

The study has two aims. Firstly, to understand the experiences and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the carers of children and young people (6-24 years) from Black minority ethnic communities in the UK. The second aim is to explore with carers of children and young people from Black minority ethnic communities, the type of information they would find helpful to include in an online course that aims to offer carers skills to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing. The Be FINE study will employ a mixed methods design, using both online surveys and individual and group-based interviews.

The study has two parts; an online survey and focus groups. To participate, individuals have to be parents or carer of a young person from a Black racial minority and the child has to be aged between 6 – 24 years. We then ask that the participant fills out the online survey, this should take around half an hour. The participant will receive £15 amazon voucher for participating. Following this, the participant will have the chance to also sign up to the focus groups.

This concludes the brief update for April – phew! I am so far behind!!

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum March 2022

Welcome to the March 2022 update of my Ethnic mental health carers forum. The forum is aimed at those from a diverse ethnic background who care for someone suffering serious mental illness. The forum also covers areas under South London & Maudsley NHS trust and also Oxleas NHS foundation trust, but forum does allow ethnic carers to attend from other service areas. Just to note, I am also the chair of Carers UK Ethnic or BAME advisory group.

Speakers for my March 2022 forum where

  • Abigail Babatunde – Research Associate on the Advance Statements Project (AdStAC)
  • Karen Edmunds – Head of Equality and Human Rights presenting on Oxleas Equalities projects

Karen Edmund presents on Equalities updates at Oxleas NHS services

Karen felt that after the introductions of members of the BAME group, that Oxleas are in the same place as some other NHS trusts are in terms of carer involvement, but she admitted there is more work to do. Karen talked about how they are developing what’s called an “Involvement hub”, which is been led by Jacqueline, who’s Oxleas NHS assistant director of involvement with her team.

Karen feels there has been reasonable amount of service user involvement, where people work with experienced practitioners, but when it comes to carers and community organisations, there is a lot of work to do and they haven’t been quite maybe quite as good as some other NHS Trusts out there.

Karen spoke on the following topics on what Oxleas is working on regarding equalities.

Workforce Equality:

  • Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) -reporting and annual action plan
  • Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) – reporting and annual action plan
  • Supporting our five staff networks (BAMEx, Disability, LGBTQ+, Mental Health, Women)
  • Building a Fairer Oxleas (BAFO)
  • Policy development
  • Enquiries related to workforce equality

Service User/Patient and Carer Equality

  • Accessible Information Standard (AIS)
  • Policy development
  • Patient complaints related to equality issues
  • Manage the Interpreting contract
  • Manage our multifaith chaplain + Chaplaincy contract with Lewisham and Greenwich Trust
  • Service User Inequalities Group (new)
  • Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework (new)

Staff and patients / service users / carers

  • Equality Delivery System 2 (EDS2) annual report
  • Public Sector Equality Duty
  • Equality and Human Rights Policy, Equality and Diversity training
  • Freedom of Information requests related to equality

Lastly to enable Oxleas to become an early adopter of the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework (SLaM have been involved in the pilot phase)

Karen then spoke about building a Fairer Oxleas Delivered actions Year 1

Improving cultural competency:

  • Cultural intelligence and inclusive leadership training for the Executive team and 50 senior managers
  • Inclusive leadership workshops open to all managers
  • Comfortable talking about race workshops open to all managers
  • Living our values training for managers to deliver a values session with their team
  • ‘In Each Other’s Shoes’ film about microaggressions, plus a guide on microaggressions
  • Team talks to show ‘In Each Other’s Shoes’ and discuss it
  • Building a Fairer Oxleas section on the Ox (our intranet)
  • Race Resource pack with articles, short films, and useful links to external resources

The outcome will look to improve all experiences of their Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, which will help improve the experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic service users and carers

Karen explained The NHS Race and Health Observatory review February 2022 found that:

Ethnic minority groups experienced clear inequalities in access to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies IAPTs; overall, ethnic minority groups were less likely to refer themselves to IAPT and less likely to be referred by their GPs, compared with White British people.

Evidence was identified for inequalities in the receipt of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with ethnic minority people with psychosis less likely to be referred for CBT, and less likely to attend as many sessions as their White counterparts

The review provided strong evidence of clear, very large and persisting ethnic inequalities in compulsory admission to psychiatric wards, particularly affecting Black groups, but also Mixed Black & White groups and South Asian groups.

There was also evidence of harsher treatment for Black groups in inpatients wards, e.g., more likely to be restrained in the prone position or put into seclusion.

More bad news was on how black children were treated in the NHS

Parents reported their children facing the same barriers to accessing services as reported for adult mental health services. Two studies of young Black men showed that they were deterred from seeking help by their knowledge of injustices in mental health services relating to Black Caribbean and Black African populations. Two large national studies found that ethnic minority children were more likely to be referred to CAMHS via social services, education or criminal justice pathways. This was particularly stark for Black children who were 10 times more likely to be referred to CAMHS via social services (rather than through the GP) relative to White British children.

Karen then talked about Oxleas new Service User Inequalities Group

She then moved to its aims which was to explain that it will help deliver Oxleas’s strategy on service user access and inequalities

This will be done by looking at their data on the ethnicity, disability, gender identity, religion, and sexual orientation of patients compared to the local population which will lead to clear actions to tackle inequity of access, experience and outcomes.

Karen the talked about how Supporting Oxleas staff to deliver inclusive care on Proposed actions to tackle inequalities

This is on how all services have a generic email for patient contact to provide an alternative to phone contact Clear information in a range of formats in plain language on what each service provides, referral criteria, and how to get access Disability access guides to key sites available on public website.

Oxleas NHS will be an early adopter of the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework Engagement with local communities and use this feedback to target service development where it’s needed most Scope care pathways where we can pilot inclusive assessments, factoring culture, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity Patient experience data by protected characteristics will be routinely produced, analysed and reviewed by services to identify differences of experience and then plan actions to address these.

Questions from Carer members

  • You shown what Oxleas are doing for CAMHS and Adult service, but what about older Adults?
  • Its an interesting and important presentation, but I am wondering why a white woman is presenting on equalities regarding disadvantages of black people, does Oxleas employ representing the communities it serves?
  • With the impact of COVID on ethnic communities, what does Oxleas have in place to reduce the impact?
  • I am interested in how Oxleas are going to work with the Patient Carer Race Equalities Framework, arent Oxleas service area’s mainly white?
  • Lastly a question from myself is I do not see hardly any ethnic patient/carer grassroot groups that Oxleas is able to engage with. How will ethnic patient and carer groups be empowered so they SEEK engagement and hold Oxleas accountable on services to ethnic communities?

Abigail presents on the Advance Statements Project (AdStAC)

Abigail spoke on how South London & Maudsley are working to promote advance statements for Black and African, Caribbean people. This is because of the high detention rates and especially with black people being more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

It is important to promote why having to work with staff service users, and carers and supporters to understand how to get advanced choice documents or advanced statements can work for black people.

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum February 2022

Welcome to a brief update of my february ethnic mental health carer forum. As usual the forum is an engagement platform for those caring for someone suffering mental illness from an ethnic background. I run the forum via zoom with the support of several mental health trusts.

Speakers at my carer forum for February were

  • Lisa Fannon the Public Health Training and Development Manager for Lewisham updating on Health inequalities
  • Ellie Wharton Senior Project Manager for Health Innovation Network
  • Engagement from the Police on mental health
  • Lisa Fannon presents on health inequalities project

Lisa wanted to update us on the health inequalities project. Since last month there was a discussion with KINARA who attended and talked about the work that they are undertaking in the community, specifically around the Birmingham and Lewisham health inequalities review that is being undertaken with the African and Caribbean communities.

That work has now been concluded and she has received a report. Lisa hopes that they will be able to launch all of that information with an event that’s taking place soon. Lisa reminded that some of us may have received the invite to that event already, but she wanted to ensure that as a community group that we were aware what is happening.

The event will be overseen and organised by Public Health Lewisham. They will also plan to have a additional event following the one just mentioned and it will specifically be for community members. This will be essentially a second in series of events around health inequalities where they are aiming to bring together community groups, and members of the health and social care and health and social care leaders talk about health inequalities. Lisa wants this to be done in partnership with the health and well-being to address health inequalities in Lewisham, and bring together everybody to discuss the situation.

There of course will be opportunities to look at some of the achievements of this work, but also to discuss further action on what needs to be done to tackle health inequalities. Lisa mentioned they will look at what kind of plans that they are hoping to undertake across this year and what future needs is happening at the event.

The event will run in the evening at a Community Centre, where she has sent in advance of this meeting, information about the event to Matthew.

  • Ellie Wharton presents on the Health Innovation Network

Ellie wanted to tell us about the mental health patient safety network event, which is part of their mental health safety improvement programme. Ellie apologised for the acronyms flying around on the programme, but thanked us for inviting her to join and speak at our ethnic carer group.

Ellie agreed with some members that health inequalities is such an important topic, which is why they have chosen it for their second event to focus for the safety network. Ellie talked about what the Health Innovation Network is, which is an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for south London, one of 15 AHSNs across England.

The AHSN exist to speed up the best in health and care. They have been commissioned by NHS England and Improvement to focus on Mental Health Safety. Which involves developing a Safety network and supporting quality improvement work in certain areas (such as restrictive practice).

Their principles are central to how the programme runs:
• co-design with people with lived experience
• Creating shared learning, connection and Joy
• Foundations of systematic QI
• Engaging with inequalities where they exist
• Working with their foundations and all the good things that already exist

Ellie then pointed out a member of my ethnic carer forum and stated one of the members was involved in the event. This is when the carer member spoke on her section regarding health inequalities and carers.

Ellie then talked about the mental health safety network.

The network is an interactive designed to bring together individuals across the system with the shared goal of improving mental health safety it is co-hosted by the HIN and the 3 south London Mental Health Trusts (South London & Maudsley NHS Trust, Oxleas NHS Trust and South West London & St George NHS Trust). It’s purpose is to create value through sharing learning, creating connections and building energy and capability in safety improvement

The event welcomes people who share the MH safety network’s goals of improving mental health safety. Registration is open to people with lived experience of mental health services, including carers, clinical and managerial staff from NHS, independent and private health and social care providers, commissioning leads, local authorities, voluntary sector partners, police, emergency services and other system partners.

Ellie then talked to us about the agenda of the event.

  • Mental health Police engagement from South London

The forum gets engagement from the police every now and then. This is mostly because the police have an interest in mind while helping those in a crisis, they want to connect and reassure carers. The police talked about what sites they cover this being Sutton, Croydon and Bromley although its quite a small team.

Their main sort of role and objectives is being a direct liaison with the NHS and mental health trusts. There are other objectives dealing with assaults against NHS, racial assaults against NHS staff where the perpetrators is having mental health issue.

The police then talked about section 136 and how they have been dealing with a lot of escalations. The police think the section is being overused. They think there’s things that they can do as a team to prevent that. There was also some talk about what they can do to help with people out in the streets dealing directly with mental health issues.

The police try and get out and about to the hospitals as well. They have got a police liaison officer that works at the hospital and who deals with crime at other Hospitals.

In a nutshell the police work directly with mental health patients once they were coming into contact with police.

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum January 2022

Welcome to the first ethnic carer forum of the month. My carer forum has expanded to cover south London with support from Oxleas NHS trust and South London & Maudsley NHS trust. A quick comment about the forum is that it bring together families and unpaid carers looking someone suffering mental illness. We seek engagement, information and a way to be involved or learn the challenges of mental health care.

For January 2022 speakers we had the following speakers.

  • Lisa Fannon, Barabra grey – Public Health Training and Development Manager
  • Natalie creary – Black Thrive Lambeth – Research regarding young people
  • Jackie Peat -​ Lewisham Diversity and Equality Lead
  • Sheena Wedderman – Culturally Diverse Communities Project Manager
  • Lisa Fannon presents on BLACHIR

Just to note BLACHIR stands for Birmingham and Lewisham African & Caribbean Health Inequalities Review

Lisa updated us on how Lewisham and Birmingham City Council are working across both Lewisham and Birmingham to focus on African and Caribbean health inequalities. Both of areas had worked previously looking at health inequalities across the board. One of the projects was on the childhood obesity program, this was during pandemic at the time, and around November, given the impact of the pandemic.

What was interesting was the impact of the lockdown and how things started to be immersed for the vast community. The group came together to look at focusing on how they could collect knowledge to support looking at how health inequalities had been an issue. Even though health inequalities have existed for decades, the project looked at trying to bring them to the forefront, which would lead to a report that could be shared nationally.

As part of that process, Lisa explained it was important to bring that information from a lived experience process within the community. This would also include the wealth of knowledge from academics across the country. The knowledge would be on the experience specifically on health inequalities.

Lisa explained that they are now working in different phases for their research, to promote and focus on information regarding health inequalities for black communities. This required a rigorous process in 2020. Where Lisa actually came to the SL&M board to talk about how they were recruiting people to take part in this process. So basically, they recruited a range of academics, from black communities who were working specifically on health inequalities.

Lisa mentioned they also put a call out to community members in Birmingham, asking them to come forward on a voluntary basis, in order to provide their experience on a range of things that they felt were were important to focus on.

What is BLACHIR?

Click Website link to visit for more info

Barbara Grey presents on KINARAA

Next it was Barbara Grey who presented some information about KINARAA and its aim is to grow the black third sector, and diversify the marketplace and ultimately improve access and well being of black, African and Caribbean people. It’s very specific, because that’s where the need is, and its focus. This is with the ethos is around collaboration.

This is where it brings together black led organizations to do what only they can do. During the first lockdown the determination showed what can happen when people come together. Another person at the forum involved in KINARAA explained that it’s just like magic to watch in terms of seeing how everybody comes together. They know what the issues are, they bring their expertise, they know exactly what the solutions are. In the end it’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. People just got this amazing work that goes on, which can lead to a strategic voice.

Click website link to find out more about KINARAA

Barbara Grey mentioned that she has worked with many people out there in the community. She felt that it’s really good to see because there are other types of initiatives including the “Patient Carer Race Equality Framework”. There needs to be a focus on black leadership on health inequalities and how communities can work together.

As a result of that they have done there are now four organizations who have done amazing engagement where they’ve done focus groups, one to one interviews, and there are also surveys that just gone live. At the time of the forum there are over 70 people have responded to the survey that went live. The responses are covering the borough quite well in terms of where you’d expect to see African and Caribbean people. So it just goes to show that if you want to reach people, plus if you’re working with people who’ve got the relationships where you’ve got the expertise, and you just bring it all together in the right way. It will just happen. And the results that you will get back is pretty outstanding.

Stakeholder feedback on partnership

A stakeholder involved in the KINARAA project responded that its all about a partnership and collaboration with organization. For them, it was actually driving hard at the work, time was a challenge because it was short, but it did not put them off because they were excited to be involved on this kind of work.

This was something special to them because for them they are a small organization, they are looking at the pathway to raise their voice, because in the end it is them who are the first point of accessing people to access the services.

So the process that has been undertaken, as part of that review is that as the review team, those colleagues involved in Birmingham and themselves will pull together evidence, work with researchers and commissioned researchers to come together and give reports on specific areas of health inequalities. They will share that information with academic board members who are around 15 academic board members that are also taking part in a review. They will then look at the evidence as they come to a meeting, or provide their information on how they feel that these health inequalities are impacting.

Natalie Creary presents on Black Thrive Lambeth

Natalie explained that as an organization called “Black thrive”, their work sort of started in the London Borough of Lambeth. Following a commission from the black health and wellbeing commission, and that was undertaken with other communities and other stakeholders. They came up with 40 recommendations to narrow the inequalities gap for black people. This led to Black Thrive being born. It was established to kind of be an independent entity that holds the system to account to be able to move forward on the health agenda of black communities.

Natalie continue that they looked at addressing mental health and equality, thinking about the social determinants of health. Natalie mentioned that they have been an independent entity for about many months now. So they are actually officially black led organization. They are currently working with many partners to explore how we can influence the social emotional wellbeing offer for black children and young people.

It was mentioned that they actually got a project currently where children in need, will co-design the criteria for a fund, which will then fund primarily black led interventions to address the mental health and well being needs for for black people

Sheena Wedderman on her new role in Bromley Lewisham & Greenwich Mind

Sheen’s explained her job role as the culturally diverse communities project manager. The role came around from a piece of research in relation to the young people of color, and diverse communities going in and out of hospitals. What was found was people from diverse communities that are entering mental health settings usually experience crisis levels that rise quite quickly. Such people are sectioned in secure wards, being medicated and often staying far too long on those inpatient wards. Then they end up coming back into the community with a really negative experience of mental health services. This in turn leads to experiencing even more mental health challenges, where they would re-enter the system at crisis level, go back into hospital, be medicated and stay too long, then coming out and not trusting the system and not getting the service that they actually deserved needed.

Sheena then talked about her focus on information that were born out of that piece of research. The what the info aims to do is to look at what the barriers ethnic people are experience, why are people waiting until they get to crisis levels to access services, but more importantly, how we can prevent them from getting on the carousel of going in and out of hospital; being medicated and coming back out in order to going back in.

She felt people need to be supported by the communities that they live in, in order to improve their mental health. So the new project basically decided how they were going to get some funding and look at how they could support people in their local community.

Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich Mind are looking at putting out to tender for more community care support workers, who are going to be based in and around community groups. They will provide a service that identifies who in the community needs that support. This is so if at any point there is an issue with their mental health, then these organizations or these local organizations will support the people accessing those mental health services

Jackie Peat presents on her role as Lewisham Diversity and Equality Lead for SLaM

Jackie who is now SL&M’s (Lewisham) diversity and equality lead, was brought into this role 2021. This was to come up with recommendations regarding staff concerns over equality where support came from the CQC, NHS England, the board of directors for slam.

The problems were a lack of opportunities for any black staff to move forward to go up the ladder, or actually sit on the boards. Jackie felt it was a shame that she had to go through some challenges, even though she just wanted to be heard. Eventually a subgroup was formed in January 2021, which led to a subgroup being formed, which she co-chaired at the time. The sub-group led to recommendations where many items need to be met.

Basically ethnic staff just wanted a safe space to speak. Presently there has been a lot of promotion are the trust are doing to look after our black staff etc etc. Jackie still feels there are many challenges to work through, but there are many positives.

Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley & Lewisham Ethnic Carer Forum November 2021

Welcome to my November update of my ethnic carer forum. I am slowly changing it from BAME to ethnic although most members who have attended over the years are not that fussed with the title, it is the discussion, focus and engagement regarding the challenges many minority ethnic carers face. The forum covers a large area mainly Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley due to my other carer groups in Greenwich and carer forums in Lewisham. The forum seeks engagement from South London & Maudsley NHS trust and Oxleas NHS trust half the time, but the carer group gets education and empowerment from national speakers regarding race, racism, complexities in mental health and so on.

For the November BAME carers forum the following speakers were

  • Brenda Onatade – Her Patient Carer Race Equality involvement and update
  • Samantha Hosten – Importance of Black History month mental health
  • Lauren Obie – Blacks MindS Matter UK
  • Lily and Jemma – Maudsley NHS Patient Research ambassadors
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BAME Carer Forum October 2021 – Black History Month special

Welcome to another brief update of my BAME mental health carers forum for October 2021. I have not been reporting off my carer forums that much due to finishing up my latest book about mental health carer experiences.

You can by my latest book on the link below.

You can also find an overview of chapter 1 from my YouTube channel below.

I am now working on my 3rd book which will be a large number of poems also on the carer experiences. It is not set for release until 2022, although I have been reading out my poems at carer groups for preparation.

The carers forum usually runs once a month and its focus is on ethnic diverse carers who are caring for someone with a mental health issue, although the forum started in Lewisham, it has expanded with the support of mental health services of Oxleas, so it has extended to Bromley, Greenwich and Bexley.

Speakers for September 2021

  • George Hosking OBE CEO of Wave Trust – Wave Trust on Young black wellbeing
  • Dr Tim Ojo – Psychiatrist on Black History Month Reflections
  • Doreen McKenzie – Black History month Poetry
  • Emilie Wildeman – Patient Research project at Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
  • Lara Sengupte – Breakfast Clubs again Racism.

This particular forum focused a lot on Black History month which ran for October 2021. One of the speakers from NHS England & Improvement could not make it, but they did attend my BAME carers group for Novemeber, which I will blog about soon.

George Hosking OBE presents on his project for youth mental health

George Hosking CEO of Wave Trust spoke about his charity, which helps to prevent children suffering child abuse, neglect, and those witnessing domestic violence in their homes. Over a number of years, the charity has become very aware of the impact on mental health, which has led to people suffering childhood trauma in some kind or other. George mentioned a huge number of mental health problems can be traced back to childhood experiences in that way. George stated the charity has experts on trauma. He himself is a clinical criminologists, psychologist, and traumatic stress counselor, his charity supports organizations and individuals to learn how to support people who have suffered trauma in their lives.

George included that one of the things they do is they help set up trauma informed communities around the UK. These are communities which really try and provide the best possible support to people who have suffered some form of trauma in their lives. This includes a lot of people with with mental health issues and these communities can be of two types. They can either be created top down by working with the NHS and local authorities and police to create a rather statutory based organization, or else it can be created from the grassroots working away from individuals in the community. They have been working now for about two years with the Black and ethnic Community where the charity is based, leading to creating a trauma informed community.

George was thinking about the possibility of doing some trauma informed community work in Lewisham, due to Lewisham Council recently inviting organizations to make an application to provide emotional health and well-being training to those working with young people in leadership.

What his charity is looking for is people who will help young people to spot the signs of poor mental health, and guide those young people towards mental health support especially in the black community. WAVE charity has got a background on this because of their knowledge of trauma and mental health, that they can provide that kind of guidance and support. They have got the facilities to train people to be more adept at doing this sort of thing. Unfortunately what they don’t have is the links in Lewisham to people who are working with young people, particularly people who are working with young people with an interest in mental health. George did realize that our forum’s focus is very much on carers rather than supporting young people. He did do a Google search to look for an organizations in Lewisham with interest in mental health and thus Matthew’s forums came up.

So George contacted Matthew who kindly invited him along today just in case, someone from within carers forum is aware of or are even interested in what that charity could potentially allow involvement in.

Lara Sengupte presents on Breakfast Clubs again Racism in Lewisham

It was Lara’s turn to speak about her project and how it came about. They are currently in the pilot scheme phase. So they have been running projects since July, and the piloting finishes in December. By then they are going to be analyzing the results of the clubs. They run two breakfast clubs, one in Catford, and one in Peckham (Southwark). The goal is basically to educate young people on racism, how it shows up in society, and how to combat it. This particularly on internal racism.

Lara knows for a lot of young people of color, which relates to mental health, that can carry around a lot of negative self talk and negativity, all the negativity that we see in the media, and through like school exclusions there is a lot of racism against young people of color. The big challenge is that young people and children don’t exactly know how to process it. So that’s one thing that our clubs want to tackle. So they are running educational Saturday breakfast clubs for young people throughout autumn term. This is not just for Black History Month since they have been running them since September, and will finish them in December. Our clubs have got about 10 weeks with the kids where the purpose of the breakfast clubs is to teach young people about racism, how to challenge it in a safe space surrounded by like minded peers.

So all the kids that are signing up to the Breakfast Club all care about racism, and all care about combating it. So they can share ideas in a safe space, that perhaps in a school it would be different. The clubs don’t just cover personal racism, they also look at deep institutional racism, and internal racism that is often carried around by young people of color. This can show up as negative self talk or self destructive behavior. So the clubs give the students an understanding of the societal problems that we have in this country. The clubs also work on self confidence and leadership skills to empower the young people and children to take action where they can.

The breakfast clubs next session was in October where the clubs work with young people from around like 10 to 14, but they are also quite flexible and ages.

You can find more about Laura’s project at this link Breakfastclubs against racism

Dr Tim Ojo reflections on black history month.

A while ago Dr Tim a psychiatrist wrote a piece for the Royal College of Psychiarists regarding the importance of Black History Month, which you can see below.

Dr Tim’s Black History month Blog

Dr Tim has been very busy promoting equality through the power of psychiatry and I felt it important to invite him to engage with BAME carers and even NHS staff.

Dr Tim felt it was a pleasure and a surprise for Matthew to connect. Dr Tim spoke about the piece he wrote for Black History Month in 2019. He is a psychiatrist by background of British born, But his heritage is in southwestern Nigeria and as part of the Royal college of Psychiarists celebration of Black History Month, which became something only a few years ago, he was invited to write a blog. Dr Tim is an associate Registrar for policy support the college. That means the things around the Royal College of Psychiatry led to reports and statements that they make, in addition to supporting people with mental illness, their families, and communities. This includes Improving the mental wellness of society in private colleges, professional body for all qualified psychologists.

Dr Tim felt what was the important facets for Black History Month is a special where we come to terms with the fact of needing to understand history from the perspective of recent events. This has happened after his blog has shown that reflection point where it’s absolutely necessary, where people of color and their white allies think about history from a different perspective, because for too long, it’s been written from the perspective of one vantage point, that vantage point unfortunately positions, people of color, black folk, particularly at a disadvantage in producing narratives that arent helpful, realistic, and are incomplete. So what he thought Black History Month now takes upon an additional layer of importance, because first of all, it is about a celebration, about the fact that across the world cultures, black people have come together even in the face of suffering, can celebrate on resilience and psychological robustness that is happening through the facets of our history, and throughout our communities. Dr Tim felt we can find people, individuals and communities doing great things where it reminds us that we have a history of a human or a connected global trajectories of history that we assume we have music culture, we have literature is important for all of us as human beings to function make no apologies for our issues about how do we use structural position to address questions of inequity and problems inclusivity in society. Dr Tim feels as carers we can speak to a very important aspect of the black community in terms of inadequacy of access narrative support.

Dr Tim also thinks having four electives is important to come together to illustrate actually, every month, although Black History Month appears once a year. it’s important for people to focus on sharing stories, not as a disadvantage, but through the use of positivity. Dr Tim mentioned where his blog gave a historical link between psychiatry in Nigeria, where the Western world in how we have trained psychiatrists who took it upon themselves to negate the negative picture over history in psychiatry, and came up with a very good book, which is called “black skin, white coats” by Matthew M. Heaton.

The book is a legend and looks at psychiatrist colonization, and the globalization of psychiatry, this led to an informed decision of him becoming a psychiatrist.

Dr Tim thinks it’s important also to recognize people like African Caribbean senior psychiatrists, who retired, but stood firm in the face of strong opposition to actually question what was happening, vision and mental services of color in this country. Dr Tim spoke more about Matthew M. Heaton on his work since the 60s and 70s, which was very important in shaping the new agenda around a shared understanding of how history is restricted, which is advantageous, specifically why he was talking about Black History Month being symbolic.

Doreen McKenzie poet and author on Black History Month poem.

I invited my aunt Doreen to read a poem for my carer group. She had two poems that she wanted to read to us. Doreen read the shorter one first. The poem was called “Proud to be black”

This woman is so darn proud to be back.
Despite the fact that she’s very aware that her color is constantly under attack.
Black is the color achievers with pride.
Nothing will ever entice her, her beautiful black skin to hide.

She was born black, and will die the same color.
And she knows many people whose thoughts are similar.
She hears people talk about the blonde bombshell.
But she repairs the curvaceous black hair.

Black skin really wrinkles with age.
Therefore, the age of a black person can hardly be gauged.
It is a mystery how many elderly people look so good,
despite the fact that they are plagued with a magnitude of challenging evidences.

And when it comes to her hair,
please don’t even bother to go there.
It is so unique and versatile.
That in just one day, it can be crafted into a variety of magnificent styles.

The Bible says that man is made from clay.
So claiming to be made in God’s own image is nothing outrageous to say.
Claim your blackness with gladness and pride.
Because the beauty of blackness, one must never tried to hide.

You can check out Doreen’s book “The Purpose of My Life: Now, Then, and in the Future”

Emilie Wildeman presents on her Research project

Last to present was Emilie on her research project. She usually attends my groups a couple of times over the past year. She was here today to push for recruitment and to raise a bit of awareness about her study that she is conducting as part of her PhD project. Emilie is a PhD student at King’s College London. Her research is all about informal family carers for people living with severe mental illness. Emilie gave us a bit of background to the study, in many health conditions, including mental health, we know that people living with these conditions will often live with or be supported by a close family member or friend, who mental health services refer to as informal or unpaid carers.

Emilie continued to mentioend that they also know that in some relationships, there can be difficult periods that might include sort of episodes of disagreement, and in some cases, can include active aggressive behavior from one person towards another. Her research is focused on carers of relatives living with severe mental health conditions and for her study, she is looking to speak with family carers who have experienced any type of aggressive behavior from the relative that they care for. So that could include sort of episodes of verbal disagreement and verbal conflict, conflict, verbal aggression, emotional and psychological. It could be physical, it could be some sort of destruction to a property. It’s very broad. She knows that this can be a very sensitive topic, and that there can be a lot of stigma around mental illness as well as aggressive behavior. So she really want to emphasize that this project is not about passing any judgment or making any assumptions about relationships. she is just interested in exploring carers lived experiences.

Emilie hopes that through doing this research, they can help to reduce that stigma. Participation is on carers completing an interview with herself. This is around giving carers the opportunity to voice their experiences and their opinions about what impact these experiences can have on themselves personally, on their relationship with the relative to their care and also for the family.

She is also really interested to learn about “What support families and carers have received in relation to dealing with experiences of aggression”. So that could be from personal support networks, but also professional services because she wants to identify what aspects have been helpful, but also maybe where support might be lacking.

This concludes my brief update of a special Black History Month special for October 2021.

Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham BAME Carer Forum September 2021

Welcome to the brief september update of my BAME mental health carers forum. The forum focuses on updates, information and queries regarding mental health services and how they impact on ethnically diverse carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health.

The speakers for September were

Mushtaq kahin – Her projects reaching out to the community
Macius Kurowski – South London & Maudsley NHS Equality Manager on Equality updates
Dr Stephen Goggins – South London & Maudsley NHS on carer’s strategy

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Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham BAME Carer Forum August 2021

This is a brief update for my BAME mental health carer forum covering a mix of London boroughs between Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Obviously out of my 6 carer groups, this forum focuses and discusses on the unique experiences of Black Asian Minority Ethnic groups. I know some people want such groups to be specific, but to be fair a lot of the topics raised in this forum do focus on the afro caribbean element, although some members are mixed from the Asian community, which is growing as members from other MH NHS trust attend.

The speakers for the month of August were

Malik Gul – Ethnicity & Mental Health Improvement
Jacqui Dillon – Race and mental health
Cordwell Thomas – Black Thrive
Dawn Irving – Maudsley NHS Quality improvement

  • Malik Gul presents on Ethnicity & Mental Health

Malik was really pleased to be among carer members of this forum. Malik felt the issue of race and mental health is not new, this is especially in the field of discrimination and racism in the services of our communities. Malik stressed that what we’ve had to endure as black and brown people has been known since we first landed in this country, But since the main kind of population of migration into this country, following the Second World War, and what is euphemistically known as the Windrush generation.

Since the days that we’ve arrived in this country, we have been discriminated against. Racism is built in to the very fabric of the systems that we all live in, and we must admit that it is a part of the system, and all of us in this conversation have experienced that. We’re all a part of it and we have all been discriminated against, in one form or another.

what Malik finds really interesting about the work he does, is that he has been working in Wandsworth at the Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network for the last 20 years.

More info on the Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

It is now their 20th anniversary and the organization was founded in 2001. The thing is the organisation knows about the history of black discrimination. Many of us will know about David rocky Bennett, a black man, Rastafarian man, who was in mental health facility in Norfolk, and unfortunately there was a dispute on the ward, something really minor, Malik thinks it was about who could use the phone and who somebody jumped in front of the queue, or something like that. He was held down by the staff, and died in mental health services, what is worse is this is just one of the many cases of ethnic minorities dying not of mental health services, but within mental health services.

So the history of black people in mental health services being discriminated against is a story that we’ve all lived and experienced for the better part of 40 to 50 years. Malik felt that he has to us that nothing has changed.

Malik works very closely with Southwest London & St. George’s mental health trust, and also very closely with South London & Maudsley as well. In fact the new chief executive of SL&M is David Bradley who was the former chief executive of SWL&STG. Malik mentioned how he worked with him for about seven years and over the last 20 years, if you look at the figures for black people where it comes to over representation in medical health services for 20 years, it shows little to nothing has improved, and in fact, in some cases, things have got much worse. Malik mentioned that he has great admiration for David because he always had the foresight to work with the community and is bringing over ideas from his previous MH trust over to SL&M.

Malik challenged us that if you go on to the wards of Springfield hospital, as he does on a regular basis, about 50-60 70% of the people on the wards are for black and minority ethnic communities. Malik pointed out that we had to look at the over representation of black people in communities particularly in services particularly black, Caribbean, and black African.

Malik stated that he has to say that our mental health institutions are not the ones who are going to address this type of problem. He felt SL&M is not the solution to over representation of black people in mental health services, nor is Southwest London St. George’s mental health trust. Nor are any of the institutions that we are relying on to fix this issue. They are not going to address the over representation of black people in mental health services. It will have to be lead by the community, but there is a power problem, an owership problem a distrust problem. This overrepresentation in mental healths services has been going on for so long that the community has felt apathetic to any drive in order to change the status quo.

There was a very long discussion on what was needed to begin to address this issue, but the conclusion is it must from ethnic minorities, but controvesally we cannot expect the victim to solve the problem as we cannot expect the masters tools to change direction.

Jacqui Dillon presents on Race and mental health

Dr Jacqui wanted to talk a little bit about her own experiences, and on why Matthew invited her to the BAME forum. Jacqui Dillion is the former chair of the national hearing voices network, which is a user led charity that was set up about 30 years ago to provide an alternative to mainstream psychiatry.

Jacqui felt she is basically a survivor. she has used psychiatric services and one of the things that she often says about why she has worked as an activist in mental health for 25 years, is because her experiences of psychiatrists, which unfortunately was pretty devastating.

Jacqui felt that one of the things is if she managed to survive services, she would do all she can to try and change them. So that’s what she has been trying to do for about 25 years now. One of the things that she thinks is really important in terms of what we’re talking about today, in terms of the hearing voices network approach is that we do not advocate a Eurocentric model of the mind.

She felt that this is one of the problems that Malik talked really passionately and eloquently about on the huge over representation of black, Asian, and other minority ethnic people using the mental health services. One of the things that’s really important about the hearing voices approach is that this space within that approach is to both acknowledge the live reality of racism and oppression, which in her experience is often taboo in traditional settings, a lot of people flinch and are very frightened, and can get quite defensive about acknowledging that black and Asian people are massively over represented in services, and what’s at the heart of all things, which ian macpherson talked about in the macpherson report.

Our colonial history is built into the fabric of the these institutions, and things like unconscious bias that professionals come with, and often they’re not aware of their own biases, and then making treatment decisions based on some quite racist assumptions that have been intertwined with such systems.

Jacqui feels a lot of despair, about the over representation of many different people from different ethnic backgrounds, although she is really uncomfortable with the term minority ethnic groups, because since she lives in Hackney people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities are 50% of her community. So she finds the description a bit reductive and these kind of acronyms we use can be a little bit dehumanizing.

Jacqui also felt she hasnt seen things improve, there used to be an organization’s called family health, ISIS, which she worked with, about 17 years ago with someone called Dennis who she did a lot of work with in terms of trying to bring the hearing voices approach to FHI as an alternative to traditional psychiatry. She was sad to hear that Family Health ISIS is now closed as with many community groups looking to set up protected spaces for those who are vulnerable and what remains are these massive mental health trusts overpowering the voices of the vulnerable.

One of the things she would like to see is a move away from locating people’s problems solely within themselves and seeing that we’re all part of a system. Jacqui feels that one of the problems with the biomedical model, is by saying that people have illnesses, what we’re doing is we’re kind of saying, madness and distress don’t really make sense and limiting away the causes of such illnesses such as the pressure of society, racism, isolation from the community, no safe places, lack of resources, lack of community, lack of understanding and so on.

Jacqui felt that we give illnesses these bizarre names like schizophrenia, which she thinks, further mystifies what are actually very human ways of coping with devastating and overwhelming experiences. So she personally does not subscribe to that kind of biomedical language and feels that it is really unhelpful. There’s actually tons of research that has shown that using medicalized language actually increases stigma and decreases people’s empathy. Jacqui mentioned that someone put on the zoom chat about how trauma informed her, Jacqui felt this was more interesting about how something like trauma informed care can develop, but talking about language is a problem where the term trauma can minimises experiences. We have a long way to go in psychiatry before we even get to the idea of recovery.

If you want to know more of Dr Jacqui Dillon’s work see the link below.

http://www.jacquidillon.org/

Cordwell Thomas presents on Black Thrive

Next to present was Cordwell thomas on his role within the organisation Black Thrive. Cordwell spoke about what Black Thrive is doing to promote and also promote what the imbalance of what Malik and Jacqui clearly stated, and also the questions coming from what carer members raised, Cordwell felt there is a concern on black individuals within the black community, having a say in their mental health and promoting the services and shaping the service to be fit for purpose. Cordwell wanted to go into a small conversation about the Patient Race Equality Framework.

On Cordwell’s role, he has several hats. He has a full time role mainly within the community, one of which is on the Black Thrive committee. On the Black Thrive committee, there are various agencies from public services, these are ranging from social workers, public health officers and directors, where they also have the police and many more. So fortunately they also have directors and decision makers who are on the table of Black Thrive and they shape the way they engage with communities and how those services engage with black communities in particular.

So, within that role Cordwell helps to represent the community, but within Black Thrive, he is an independent advisor, which enables him to liaise with South London & Maudsley NHS, and also help develop services within SL&M. In particular those services that have been disproportionately affecting black individuals within the community, like individuals from Caribbean descent.

With such roles it is what brought him to this forum to have a conversation with us, because one of his roles, actions or projects, is to be the lead person from the black community driving the trusted friend project,

Cordwell mentioned that he presented with a colleague from SL&M the trusted friend project, a couple of weeks ago at the Lambeth Carers Hub peer group, which Matthew attended. from that forum Matthew requested us to speak about trusted friend for this forum. Basically what it’s about is if you imagine a situation where you’re in a strange environment, ie as if you’re now a psychiatric inpatient, at one of SL&Ms hospitals, if you imagine yourself in a strange environment and you do not have a voice. Now the role of the trusted friend is to ease and promote that de escalation. So the impatient ward may go through all their various roles of de escalation on an issue, however the trusted friend will come on the ward and be that middle person that liaises with the ward staff and say what the wishes of the individual are.

More info on Black Thrive

There was most in-depth discussions about other Black Thrive projects, but for now this was the brief update of the Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich MH carer forum for August 2021

Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham BAME Carer Forum July 2021

Welcome to a brief update of my BAME carers forum for the boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. The focus is one of the 6 carer forums that focuses on discussions, awareness and campaigns regarding unpaid carers from an ethnic background specifically caring for a ‘loved one’ suffering mental ill health. Forum members do not have to have someone using the services, it could be they are caring for someone who might not be using the services of South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation trust or Oxleas NHS trust.

The BAME mental health carer forum update for July had the following speakers to engage with carers, although not in order.

  • Lola Jaye (psychothearapist, author, speaker) – Why race matters when it comes to mental health
  • Emma Wakeman (St Andrew’s Healthcare)- on The Missing Voices: Carers’ Experiences of Section 17 Leave (Mental Health Act 1983)
  • Kuldip Kaur Kang (West midlands trust) – on Religious and cultural needs of BAME mental health inpatients request
  • Rachel Nethercott – Carers UK focus on diversity unpaid carers
  • Leonie Down (SLaM Lewisham Head of Occupational Therapy and Partnerships Lead ) – Update on Patient Carer Race Equality framework
  • Dominic Parsons – Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich Mind on their diversity initiatives.
  • Professor Shirin Rai from Warwick University – On the Impact of covid-19 on bame carers

Judging by the speakers, you can see the BAME carers forum is held online and is also attended by mental health NHS trust staff working to understand the issues that affect ethnic unpaid carers and patients.

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