Entitled ‘Count Me In 2009’, this new report published today, is the fifth national census on ethnicity of patients in mental health services.
Like the census findings published before it, this latest study shows that detention rates of people from African Caribbean communities has steadily increased over the last 12 months, while they have declined for every other ethnic group.
This report is part of a multi million pound; five year strategy entitled Delivering Race Equality (DRE). DRE was launched 2005 in response to the high profile David Bennett inquiry report into the tragic death of an African Caribbean patient, while in psychiatric care.
The DRE programme was launched with a commitment from Government to ensure a reduction in the numbers of black people who are sectioned under the Mental Health Act. There was also a pledge to improve the support of community based services and a commitment was also made to cut down on the reliance on the use of seclusion, control and restraint for this group.
The need to improve the treatment of black patients was also recognised, with targets set through this programme to reduce in the use of high doses of antipsychotic medication.
Findings in the latest report show that in the final year of the DRE programme not one of these commitments have been met.
‘It is very disappointing to see that after so much money has been spent on addressing inequalities in the treatment and care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, that things have actually got worse. It’s hard to see how people can have faith in the services when all the indicators show how damaging the treatment can be,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘For a lot of people this is an academic exercise but for us it is a real, we are the one’s living this thing, it is our fathers, partners, grandparents who are the ones who feeling the brunt of these failures.
The hallmark of any civilised society is the care that you give to the most vulnerable, this report shows once again that the voice and the needs of the most vulnerable continue to be ignored,’ Alicia Spence services director at the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) said.
‘I find no comfort in these findings at all they offer no hope. The figures in this report are consistent with all other findings that have been published in the last few years that show that the government’s DRE initiative has failed. We would like to know what those responsible for DRE at the Mental Health Development Unit (MHDU) are going to do about it,’ Professor Sashi Sashidarand consultant psychiatrist and panel member on the David Bennett Inquiry said.