BMH UK alerts equalities watchdog over moves to bury mental health ethnicity data

BMH UK alerts equalities watchdog over moves to bury mental health ethnicity data

A consortium of agencies have added their support to a letter to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) from campaigns group Black Mental Health UK calling for data collected on mental health services and ethnicity to be made public.

The letter comes in the wake of growing concerns across the community that moves are afoot to bury this information, which was due to be published back in October 2010.

The over-representation of people from BME communities has been one of the most significant trends in detentions under the Mental Health Act since the Count Me In Census began systematic data collection in this area in 2005.

Findings from the previous Count Me In Census reports has shown that detention rates of people from African Caribbean communities has steadily increased, while declining for every other ethnic group. They also put the spotlight on inequalities in treatment and care for this group which have continued to get worse.
However, new data which should have been made public back in October 2010 on patients’ experiences has still not been disclosed.

With people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities over represented in the most coercive parts of the mental health system, the failure to publicise ethnicity data is seen as a move to sideline the concerns of one the most marginalised groups.

Community leaders fear that unless the Equalities Commission makes sure that the CQC continues to make this data public, this issue will be pushed of the health and social care agenda with catastrophic consequences.

‘This data is the only way that agencies working in this area are able to find out exactly who is in the system. Without this information, strategy to address the over representation of black people in mental health care cannot be developed. The growing numbers of black people detained under the Mental Health Act and the long stays in secure hospitals do not make for comfortable reading, but we cannot afford to ignore this if we want to see improvements in this sector,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

‘I believe that this is suppression of important but uncomfortable data rather than just a failure, as it shows that black patients continue to face discrimination when they enter the mental health system. The delays in publishing findings for the last year is tantamount to the censorship of bad news,’ Prof Sashi Sashidaran panellist on the David Bennett Inquiry report said.

‘In the interests of openness and transparency it is very important that this data is made public. This information is critical in terms informing how these matters should be addressed,’ Bishop Llewellyn Graham, church of God of Prophesy said.

‘When this data is in the public arena there is a kind of in built accountability – if people know that they are being watched then they can’t just try it to brush these failures under the carpet.
This is a very important issue and there are people with a vested interested keeping an eye on it,’ Alicia Spence services director of the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) said.

– Supporters who have endorsed Black Mental Health UK letter to the Equalities Commission include:
-Lord Herman Ouseley
-Prof Sashi Sashidaran, David Bennett Inquiry panellist
-Dr Dele Olajide, Consultant Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley Mental Health Trust
-Prof Albert Persaud – co-founder and director Centre For Applied Research and Evaluation -International Foundation (CAREIF)
-Archdeacon of Riegate The Venerable Daniel Kajumba, Bishop Llewellyn Graham Church of God of Prophesy
– Alicia Spence, African Caribbean Community Initiative
-Frederick Clarke, Mighty Men of Valour
-Olu Alake,100 Black Men of London
– Rachel Barclay, Two Way Street
-Dr David Muir – Faith in Britain
– Chinyere Inyama, Mental Health Lawyer and part-time Judge
-Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students Campaign
– Maureen Lewis, chief officer, Wasall Black Sisters Collective

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