Tag Archives: BME mental health

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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We were delighted to have the equality lead from South London and Maudsley attend to present on their latest equality report titled “Meeting the public sector equality duty at SLaM (2017 edition)”. Before I explain a bit about the report, we had a guest speaker Chris Robertson from “Dont Tone alone”. Chris was speaking about an exciting new project in conjunction with Carers Lewisham on providing exercise classes for unpaid carers. Chris works with carers and those suffering mental ill health. As a note, it is hard for carers to get time to focus on their physical health, plus exercise is one of the main benefits for well-being.

If you wish to sign up to one of exercise classes, please check the flyer below.

Green Photo Dog Walker Flyer

Healthwatch Lewisham also attended the BME forum to learn more about what SLaM is doing regarding equality, so I was very pleased at healthwatch joining in the discussion. Going back to the report, it was produced by the Equality lead Macius Kurowski.

Macius spoke in great detail on what the aim of the report was for and the importance of data. Macius pointed out several important points regarding African and Caribbean use of mental health services. The data held in the report is a mirror of how services are being used and gives some insight on what is working well and what isn’t.

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Some revealing aspects of the data is the use of BME CAMH services, it was discussed how we could raise awareness of BME groups accessing such services. Some members of the group were happy such a report is done, because it gives a birds eye view in the whole of SLaMs services.

Macius warned that the report is not a solution to complex BME problems, but is a mirror of what is happening. A large majority of questions from the forum were on the subject of institualisation, race, equality and experiences of the mental health system.

Macius noted more needs to be done for BME groups to access certain services especially IAPTS (Increasing Access to psychological therapy).

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More discussions were held on spirituality, the mis-understanding of BME culture and behaviour, restraint and high rate of BME usage in forensic services.

Personally I was glad Macius returned once again to the forum to speak to those using the services and I hope it has got the ball rolling with both SlaM and members of the forum engaging with each other to improve aspects of mental health.

If you wish to learn more about the report you can download them from

https://www.slam.nhs.uk/about-us/equality/public-sector-equality-duty

Thanks for stopping by

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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.