Black Mental Health UK election manifesto puts the voiceless on the political agenda

Black Mental Health UK election manifesto puts the voiceless on the political agenda

An election manifesto calling for a change the treatment and care of black patients who use mental health services has been launched by the campaigns group Black Mental Health UK.

The manifesto is backed by expert panellists from the David Bennett Inquiry Report, political leaders and over 20 organisations concerned about recent developments in this sector. This policy document is part of a bid to get the voice of one of society’s most marginalised groups on the radar of politicians during this election season.

With detention rates of black people at an historic high, despite having similar rates of mental illness as any other ethnic group, this increasingly viewed as social justice as well as a health and social care issue.

The manifesto highlights the concerns which have so far been excluded from all the debates the political leaders have had around health and social care. This policy statement sets out the need for the next government to make a commitment to see the disproportionate numbers of black people detained under the Mental Health Act come down.

It also calls for measures to end the overcrowding on acute wards and the use of police cells as places of safety. The manifesto also calls for the removal of innocent service users profiled on the national criminal DNA database, and improvements in access to physical health care and better access to talking therapies.

‘Mental health is an election issue for black Britons as the lives of almost every family in the community has been touched by this. This manifesto is calling for a commitment from the next government to take this issue seriously. To get this wrong not only wastes public money is also costs in human lives,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

‘BME communities are badly disadvantaged by the failure of mental health services to address their needs and the institutional racism inherent therin. This manifesto sets out clear recommendations with actions which would tackle inequalities and disadvantages in mental health service provision,’ Lord Herman Ouseley first black head of the Commission for Racial Equality said.

‘This outcome of this election will determine the future of the NHS. We are facing unprecedented cutbacks in front line services and investment in and reform of mental health care are likely to be compromised. This is likely to affect the BME communities disproportionately and make the current crisis in relation to BME mental health care worse. THE BMH UK Manifesto is a clear articulation of the pressing priorities in this area and it is important that we demand that the main political parties show their commitment and support for this agenda’, Professor Sashi Sashidarand consultant psychiatrist and panel member on the David Bennett Inquiry said.

‘It is now16 years since the Orville Blackwood Inquiry, and 6 years since David Bennett Inquiry, and yet black patients using mental services still experience at every stage worse outcomes than white patients. I hope the new Secretary of State, from whichever Party will commit the Government to dealing with the racism within the mental health service, rather than let another black man die at the hands of his carers,’ Dr Richard Stone, panel member on the David Bennett Inquiry said.

‘Black church leaders have been concerned about this issue for a very long time. Failures in the service have had a devastating impact on our communities and this manifesto sets out clearly what a future government needs to commit to in order to address this,’ Bishop Dr Joe Aldred said.

‘We strongly believe that especially given the disproportionate representation of the Black community in the metal health system, this should be a key issue for politicians of all parties who genuinely have the interests of the entire nation at heart. We fully endorse this manifesto and hope that many others will sign up to it as well,’ Olu Alake, President, 100 Black Men of London.

‘We endorse this manifesto as this is an important issue which needs to be more prominently and reflected in the commissioning and provision of community based services. The work that we do in this areas is looking to tackle the over representation of black males within this system and the lack of appropriate gender specific services for this group,’ Melvyn Davis director of The Male Development Service said.

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