These comments come in response to the Communities Secretary John Denham launch of a report entitled ‘Tackling Race Inequality: A Statement on Race’ on Thursday.
Health experts have voiced concern over the way this report makes reference to the Department of Health’s Delivering Race Equality (DRE) programme as a key action tacking discrimination. They say that this may give the impression that the black people who come in contact with mental health services no longer face racism. However a final report on the DRE Programme revealed that it had failed in meeting any of its key targets.
Health experts are keen to ensure that the failings of the DRE programme are not manipulated by the Government to appear to be successes.
New figures show detention rates of black people are at an all time historic high, even though people of African Caribbean origin have similar rates of mental ill health as any other ethnic group.
As an issue that touches the lives of every black family living in the UK, community agencies have started championing mental health as a key election issue for this group.
‘There is a growing consensus within the community that mental health is an election issue for black Briton. Statistics show that every family from this community will know someone who has been detained under the Mental Health Act. We need to see is a clear and honest commitment to address discrimination, not attempts to imply there are successes where services are failing’ Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘It’s completely wrong to claim that DRE has been effective in any way in changing the racial inequalities. The final Delivering Race Equality programme report states that they have failed to deliver on any of their expected outcomes, so it should not be listed among the areas where the government has made improvements. Prof Suman Fernando senior lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury and visiting professor at London Metropolitan University said.
‘All the evidence shows is that things are getting worse and DRE has clearly not addressed this. What it has created is a cadre of race equality workers who are not having any impact on inequalities. Some of the Community Development Workers that have been appointed are not concerned with addressing racial inequalities and so it is misleading to imply this ,’ Prof Sashi Sashidharan consultant psychiatrist and Bennett Inquiry panellist said.
‘The statistics show the over representation of black people within mental health services is getting worse every year and yet the Government is using the Delivering Race Equality programme as an example of where things have improved. This is not time to be trying to misinform the public, it is too important an issue and we must get it right,’ Dr Richard Stone panel member on Bennett Inquiry and Stephen Laurence Inquiry said.