Tag Archives: BME mental health

Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum May Update

Welcome back to a quick update on one of the mental health carer forums I chair. This particular forum involves unpaid BME carers and those using or have used the mental health system. This is the only forum which involves ethnicity at it’s core.

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Lewisham is a very diverse borough and there is a high rate of mental health representation amongst the afro/carribean population. The forum has been running since last year and we have made a lot of progress, especially through engagement.

The forum runs once a month, usually on a Friday. The main topic for the May BME forum was on the SLaM quality report on the “Quality Priority setting for 2018/19”. All 4 of the Mental Health forums had a chance to give feedback on the mental health services South London & Maudsley provides regarding quality improvement. Despite feedback having to be rushed, I am grateful that the board has given the forums opportunity to provide feedback.

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The report is an 8 page breakdown of where feedback is given in regards to improving quality of services at the trust. The BME MH forum meeting held on the 25th of May focused on page 7 of the report. I allowed each member of the forum to speak about how they felt was raised in the report.
– Quite a few had opinions about how medication could be improved and wondered how the forum would be updated on progress.

– It was mentioned that some people would not have time to read the report and it should have pictures, but I felt at least we can have a discussion about the report so members can hear other’s views who had read the report.

– A lot of the members felt it was very important that the board take the suggestion of including familes in services, especially on the ward. One member felt comforted that family visited them on the ward, because they had a difficult time with staff.

– Another member wanted more information booklets, since I had handed them the new carers handbook, the confidentiality handbook and they queried why they had not seen those before.

– Some members want engagement regarding what compliants and compliments are made across the trust

– Lastly a discussion was raised on the problem of training staff to be empathic, especially staff from BME backgrounds who still lack empathy towards BME service users. This requires more discussion.

The forum members look forward to the Police along with the Central Place of Safety attending the June forum, especially since there was concern due to the recent death in Catford.

One important note is the members wish to have a mental health act officer engage with them to understand not only the mental health act, but also how the trust will adopt any new changes to Mental Health Law.

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Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum April

Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer & Service User forum. I know it is a mouthful of a forum name, but I hope it explains fully the forums purpose. Out of all the 4 forums I participate in, this forum is specialised for BME members who often can face a double stigma of identity, neglect and mental health needs.

The forum runs once a month at Family Health ISIS, which is a charity that focuses specifically on African & Caribbean needs in the community. With lack of funding comes difficulty in outreach for those struggling with mental health needs. In fact on my way to the forum I found several unfortunately BME people on the streets clearing struggling with mental health needs and I often wonder what support or engagement they are getting.

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The forum had a good turn out because we have SLaM’s diversity lead explaining her role and engaging with the members of the forum. She told the members about what the trust aims to provide regarding BME members from across the 4 boroughs and listened to us on what works on our journey through psychological therapy and what does not work.

Some of the feedback was on race and Identity.
Problems in reinventing the wheel.
Tracing back issues via family tree structure.
Assessments not flagging up mental health needs in order to access services.
Increasing communication to GPs, Churches, Mosques and community groups.
How people need to be involved and sharing power with those wanting to shape services.

The members of the forum hope SLaM’s diversity lead comes back to work with us on tackling such issues.

During the forum, I was happy to see Lewisham CCG turn up and take notes since they were interested in what was going on. They will get back to me later, but I am happy they are becoming more involved.

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We also had a healthy eating session from Healthwatch Lewisham who spent a good hour speaking to members about what foods contain, how foods can be categorised and we also spent time making a healthy fruit kebab.

All of the food was provided by Lewisham Tesco, which helps organisations strengthen community spirit and involvement. The forum members appreciated healthwatch Lewisham’s healthy eating workshop and they have been very good in engaging with the BME forum.

This concludes the update for the Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU forum.

Lewisham BME Mental Health Carer/SU Forum March Update 2018

Welcome to the March update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum. This forum is filled with unpaid carers supporting someone close suffering mental health needs. We come together each month to discuss issues, work out what is working for Carers and service users agmonst the BME community and be engaged by our local mental health trust, CCG and third party providers.

This month we had the Clinical Service Lead for Assessment and Liaison based in Lewisham. He spoke about the kinds of services provided for lewisham resisdents who have mental health needs. We also discussed the use of Increasing Access to Psychology Therapies and how to access such a service.

The discussion moved onto why BME groups were not accessing such services and if there were thoughts and ideas of how mental health staff treat BME service users and their carers. Group members felt because of bad experiences, even young BME groups tend to stay away from services due to fear of trauma. The group queried how many people were being assessed in the borough of Lewisham, but I reminded that we need to examine the report “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM”.

Some of the members would like to have the Patient & Public Involvement Lead for the Acute ward services back again to talk about further updates about the Acute ward services.

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More discussions were focused on the services provided at Southbrook road and the BME Service user/carer forum were handed out updates from the meeting in Feburary. The group were very pleased in how the report was laid out and presented and would like such a format to continue.

A large part of the discussion at the March forum centered on experiences with the police and how some members ended up at the Ladywell Unit. There is distrust from some members of the forum about the police, especially due to the recent death of a mentally unwell person brought in by the police. I however reminded the group, that engagement from SLaM’s Central place of Safety and the police mental health lead would help shape views and experiences. The forum looks forward to engagement from Lewisham Police & SLaM in the comming months.

Some of the members discussed the need for therapy/counselling and felt it was lacking in SLaM, they felt the need for such services due to trauma and bad experiences. Members of the forum were not interested in family therapy all the time and would want some counselling and engagement on how to understand their care plans.

BME MH Carer forum update February 2018

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Welcome to the February update of the Lewisham BME mental health carers forum. I know the title of the group in lewisham is very long, but it does cover the aspects of Black Minority Ethnic and mental health.

Out of the 4 carer forums I chair in South London, this one is a mix of service users and carers. The forum started last year, so it is fairly new. The older forum which is the Lewisham Carers MH forum has been running close to 2 years.

On the february update, we were joined by South London and Maudsley’s Patient and Public involvement lead Alice Glover. I have been on many of Alice’s involvement groups for some years, so it was great to get support from her in which she contributed to the forum. Her task for the february forum was on how can the South London trust support this particular forum.

We all decided that perhaps each month would have a representative from the trust to speak to the forum and engage with matters arising or even compliments. There was some frank discussion on that day as a majority of experiences were about the police. Other important discussions related to medication, education about mental health, difficult experiences and who would engage with the forum in future.

Other interesting discussions were on the courses available at the SLaM recovery college and the new Black Thrive intiative event, which will take place on the 14th of March. See link for more details.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thrive-ldn-lewisham-community-workshop-tickets-42455852598?aff=es2

The involvement lead presented on getting involved with the trust, which one of the members was very interested in doing. Other leaflets and cards were handed out about trust, including membership which gives patients, staff and carers a more powerful voice regarding the direction of the trust.

The forum slightly over ran, but in the end a lot of progress was made and we all appreciated Alice engaging with the BME forum.

BME Mental Health Carer forum update January 2018

Welcome back to the 2nd blog of 2018. This particular blog post is a brief update to one of the carer forums I chair in South London. The forum is the BME Mental Health Carer forum in Lewisham. This forum gives a chance for both carer and patient/service user to engage with service providers on mental health matters.

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Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers Forum September

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Welcome to Septembers Lewisham BME MH Carers Forum. Yes, I know it is a long title for the forum, but nevertheless the importance of unpaid BME mental health carers cannot be understated. The reason I set up the forum was to allow BME carers the platform to discuss issues, engage with those responsible for equality and diversity and also educate other carers who are not aware of their role or problems they may face.

To Watch the video version, click below.

The Lewisham BME MH Carers forum runs from the Lee centre over in Lewisham. On the agenda for September was an introduction on why the forum was set up, its requirements and a talk about race, equality and diversity from our Local mental health trust’s equality lead Macius Kurowski.

So why the need for such forum?

– We have no idea how many BME Carers/Service users in Lewisham have any idea or influence on Mental Health services.

– There is a high rate of BME Mental Health carers, due to the high rate of BME service users & those not using the services.

– Mental Health BME carers need some empowerment in their role.

– Services have suffered from cuts, carers need to act in order to support everyone.

– Lambeth is now on the map for a big push on BME mental health focus, but where is Lewisham where the population is very diverse?

Eventually Macius South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Equality lead spoke about his role at the trust, why it was needed and the importance of race and equality. At the first BME Carers forum, we discussed his report about Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM. So we felt it was important we should engage and hear more from the trust’s equality lead.

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Macius mentioned that it is important we examine, discuss and understand the report since it will help us all in our roles. He did feel that as a forum, when it comes to finding about the data regarding the number of BME service users and carers, it can be complex. Macius stated that SLaM is doing a number of good things in picking up data e.g. (quality improvement meetings) and engaging with the public, but there is still more work to be done.

We were grateful for Macius to engage with the forum and look forward to him returning early next year. This concludes the update for September’s Lewisham BME Mental Health Carers forum.

Review of play – So You Think I am Crazy?

Welcome to another blog post from Matthew Mckenzie a carer in Lewisham, On the 13th of March I took a trip over to the Albany theatre in Lewisham.  I heard there was a play regarding the journey of a young black man through the mental health system. I had booked my tickets to see the play.  The play was called “So you think I am Crazy” and I heard the play was shown over in the London Borough of Croydon and also played at the Maudsley Learning Centre in 2014.

Here is a video of the review if you wish to sit and watch instead of having to also read the blog.

I was very excited to at last have a chance to see the play which is directed and written by Ekanem Hines. The play on Friday also got a donation by Quo Vadis Trust & Equinox Lewisham.  The play originated from a group of carers.  On that evening the play sold out as news travelled about how good the play was.  The play delivered various songs, powerful thought provoking scenes and rap throughout the night, however being a carer myself of someone who uses the mental health services, what were my thoughts about the play?

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I do not want to spoil the play, but I felt it was very hard hitting. Half way through the play you actually begin to wonder about the title of the play “So you think I am crazy?”.  You begin to question to yourself if not only the mental health system, but also society would need to take a long hard look at itself.  Each scene looked deeply at the intentions of those who are unfortunately struggling to work out who is unwell and the reasons for the illness, but the resources are clearly not provided to tackle the stigma and discrimination within society and the mental health system.

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As I sat throughout the play thinking how easy it would be for me to turn from carer to someone using the services, plus the added stigma of me as a black male.  I would be lying if the system had not judged me for being unpredictable, maybe violent, untrust worthy and even so far to go as crazy.  Still, throughout the play I felt proud that I have kept my patience with those who have judge and will continue to judge based on my own difficult journey as a carer.

The problem is that society takes strong and caring people, breaks them down and many end up within the mental health system where many are vulnerable.  To make matters even more difficult, they have to focus on recovery and yet many in society will continue to judge those who are not only broken in spirit, but also in the mind.  So thus we have the added stigma and discrimination of those who not only behave unwell, but are deemed to look out of place.

As I sat on the panel at the end of the play, I was proud and delighted to sit next to prominent figures such as

Marcia Riggs
Sephton Henry
Peter Wilson
Dr. Ayonrinde
Ekanem Hines

Peter Wilson copy Matthew McKenzie copy Marcia Rigg copy Director & Author - Ekanem Hines copy

I thought long and hard about my answer to the audience as deep thought provoking questions and answers were explored about the theme of the play and tackling such difficult subjects. My answer to the audience is that each time we seek to understand the battle between mental health, race and society, we can only gain from this.

We need to congratulate ourselves for taking the time to understand other people’s journeys. We must EDUCATE ourselves and question prejudice, stigma and discrimination, hence the title of the group “kNow My Mind”. If we take the time to learn about mental health, raise awareness and tackle stigma then we can truly battle the idea of who is crazy and who isnt.