Black Lives Matter and Black Mental Health Matters
Mind in Bexley and East Kent Mind believe in Black Lives Matter and Black Mental Health Matters and we publically share our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The killing of George Floyd and the number of black people who have died from Covid-19 are shocking, but the racism that caused them is not new.
In mental health – as in other areas of life – there is a huge disparity in how black people are listened to and supported at every level. People from black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups living in the UK are more likely to:
be diagnosed with mental health problems
be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
experience a poor outcome from treatment
disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
Under the outdated Mental Health Act, Black people are more likely to be compulsorily admitted for treatment, more likely to be on a medium or high secure ward and more likely to be subject to seclusion or restrain. This weekend marks 18 months since the Mental Health Act review – and we are still waiting for the UK Government to make vital changes.
Our work to date
We are working to make sure that everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the support and respect they deserve. As part of our strategy, we are working to make sure our projects and processes include a focus on diverse and/or marginalised communities. We are working to align mental health support with the challenges black people face in a way that’s authentic and engages with the entirety of their lived experience of racism as an everyday reality. We accept that delivering on this ambition involves fundamental change within Mind, addressing racial disparity internally to enable us to deliver on our equality ambitions.
National Mind are currently lobbing the government to implement our recommendations to the review into the Mental Health Act and its disproportional impact on BAME people. Mind are also involved in the NHS Mental Health Inequalities work, leading to some very clear ambitions about what should change in the next few years. Mind are channelling parts of the Department of Health fund that addresses the mental health impact of coronavirus towards BAME groups.
We know there is a lot of work to do and we will fight for everyone.
There’s more we need to do
At Mind, we have campaigned alongside the most marginalised and discriminated against. We also recognise the white privilege inherent in our own organisation and we are committed to addressing this.
Within our infrastructure we have tried to support change on equality and diversity by driving regular and more accurate reporting of our workplace demographics and engaging trustees and staff in important conversations on diversity and race through the London Mind and Kent Mind network. We will invest in training and development work so that all teams are focused on unconscious bias and explore further how we can attract more BAME applications to recruitment adverts. We are part of the National Mind BAME Network and we will continue to part of events and networks.
However, the fact remains that there is still more we can do. BAME colleagues are under-represented in our staff teams. We are still not a diverse workforce that represents the communities we support.
We know that, as an organisation, we are part of the problem and that we have issues we need to fix. We really address the mental health needs of BAME groups and how we can recruit, retain and support BAME colleagues.
As the CEO I believe that Black Lives Matter and I fully support this movement and its aims. I support our staff to take part in it and to lend their voices in it. We know there’s no easy solution and that there is still a long way to go to make sure everyone experiencing a mental health problem and other forms of discrimination, is treated equally, both within our organisation and outside of it. I and our trustees will use our positions of authority to create change where it is needed. We are committed to keeping this on the agenda of our senior staff and our trustees, and to co-develop a plan in the longer-term with colleagues and those who use our services for what further action we need to take to do more to address the inequalities we know we have in our organisation.
Mind in Bexley and East Kent Mind
At Mind in Bexley and East Kent Mind, we wanted to keep you up to date with our plans due to COVID-19 and the recent government advice.
Firstly, we are absolutely committed to you, our clients/customers, and we will continue to support you in these unprecedented times. Our dedication to all our people, both our own and our clients, is paramount and we remain here to help.
We have made some modifications to our working practices to ensure the health and wellbeing of our people is at the forefront. Thanks for our innovative and fantastic IT and senior management team, as from 16th March, we decamped from our offices and outreach venues and all apart from our Crisis Café service have moved to a Work from Home strategy. We believe we can continue to serve residents and Carers and be here for you, if not in person, certainly by video, email, telephone and messaging, continuing to stay in touch and conduct our business in all ways other than face-to-face. Please see our new and innovative timetable which is now up and running. Our Crisis café in Bexley will however remain open from 6pm-10pm every evening.
We are all going to need companionship in this unique situation, so do not hesitate to use us as a sounding board – now more than ever. We are all part of the same community and must support each other.
Please do get in touch with me directly if you wish; but I am sure your usual contacts across Mind will be looking forward to hearing from you – helping no matter how big or small your questions or concerns are. Please leave a message on 0208 303 8932 and you will receive a call back. Alternatively email the firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if a THANET resident and we will get back to you. We have also launched a wellbeing line for Bexley and East Kent and we are here to listen if you need support.
As ever, we are here for you and will continue to be here for you as this situation develops.
Dr David Palmer (PhD) CEO Mind in Bexley and East Kent Mind