Category Archives: Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum

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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Bromley, Greenwich & Lewisham BAME Carer Forum June 2021

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
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Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum April 2021

Hello everyone. Welcome to the April update of my BAME mental health carer forum. This is one of the 7 carer forums that I run that is specifically aimed at ethnic unpaid carers who care for someone suffering mental distress or mental illness. It is hard for unpaid carers to often get a voice, understand mental health services or even be identified by health and social care. There is a push for ethnic inclusion, but a lot of it is patient centered. So this is one of the reasons why I started a BAME MH carer forum, there are of course more to come.

For this month’s speakers we had the following.

Dr Juliana Onwumere who is a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Clinical Psychologist. She is also the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience Carer Champion

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Connecting with BAME mental health unpaid carers

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 :-

  • Racism
    • Access to quality services
    • Opportunities
    • Mental health stigma
    • Inequalities

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.

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum February 2021

Welcome to the February update of my Lewisham BAME carers forum. Out of all the carer forums and peer support groups I run, this one focuses on BAME carer experiences and challenges. The forum although focuses on Lewisham, BAME carers from outside the borough are welcome since there is a lack of BAME carer networking groups, especially BAME carer-led forums. I might even consider changing the name to Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich BAME carer forum since I am very active in Greenwich and the actually BAME carer forum is fairly linked to Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich Mind via the Community Wellbeing Hub.

For February our speakers were.

Dr Shubulade Smith CBE Psychiatrist from South London & Maudsley.

Dr Shubulade Smith CBE is a British academic and consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. She is a senior lecturer at King’s College, London and Clinical Director at the NCCMH and forensic services at SLaM. Dr Shubulade is a heavy supporter of BAME causes especially due to her field and experiences, so it was an honour to have her engaged with BAME carers.

Danielle Perlman is a senior Project Manager at SLaM NHS trust and is passionate about engaging with the community with the South London listens project. More on that later.

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