With celebrations commencing around the world today to promote greater public awareness and understanding of mental illness, BMH UK are concerned at the increase in numbers of families who are grieving at this time because of the loss of a loved one who has died in the system.
The recent high profile cases of two black men who died after being restrained by police officers on the same day, while in the care of mental health services are the latest in a growing trend that is of great concern.
These incidences point to the need for accountability and transparency over how people are treated. They have also condemned how family members are treated with many waiting years to find out exactly how their loved ones have died.
BMH UK say that World Mental Health Day presents an opportunity for health agencies and the government to address this by revisiting the recommendations in the David Bennett Inquiry report so that the bad practices which are leading to deaths come to an end.
‘It is good to have these days in order to use them to bring about change for those who don’t have a voice.
By acknowledging this issue is makes it clear that these people do matter and that change in the way black service users are treated needs to be made a priority so more names are not added to those who have died in this way,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘We need to remember those who have lost their lives in the services as this is part of the crisis in the provision and treatment of minorities.
It is sad to see that there is not the commitment to tackle this issue, if there were this gross inequality in any other area of healthcare there would be a national outcry, ‘Professor Ssashi Sashidaran consultant psychiatrist and panel member on the David Bennett Inquiry.
‘Whilst we are celebrating some are commemorating. Remembering those who have died in the system strikes a chord with me and I think that it is something that is well overdue.
The tragic thing is that by World Mental Health Day 2011 some more names will have been added particularly young black males unless something radical happens within the mental health system,’ Alicia Spence services director at the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) said.
‘This day is an opportunity to celebrate but there also needs to be an acknowledgement of those who are still suffering unjustly within the mental health system.
We must look practically at what needs to be improved so that so that we don’t see a repeat of the mistakes that has led to loss of lives. Rev Paul Grey, mental health campaigner and community activist.
‘It makes me angry to see that regardless of the number of black people who have died that no one has been prosecuted for these deaths. We pray that the families will get justice in these cases. Our thoughts go out to all the families of those who have lost loved ones as a result of deaths in custody and psychiatric care and our prayers at this time,’Bishop Llewllyn Grayham, Church of God of Prophesy said.
‘It is a tragedy that so many are not with us because of what has been done to them when they were in the system, they should not be forgotten and the agencies responsible for their safety should learn from their terrible mistakes. We already have the answers, we need to see the recommendations put into practice, so there no excuse for any more deaths’ Jackie Maclean a frontline mental health practitioner from the community to said.