The tragic cases of both Sean Rigg and Olaseni Lewis, who both lost their lives while in the care of SLaM has put the spotlight on a number of concerns in the way people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities are treated by the services when in need of urgent mental health care.
While concerns about the use of restraint and other coercive measures when dealing with the group are by no means new, the findings in the high profile Sean Rigg Inquest verdict this August have confirmed that very little has been done to improve the treatment of this group.
People from the UK’s African Caribbean communities are more than 44% more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than their white counterparts. Once in hospital they are subject to be given high doses of antipsychotics, subject to control and restraint and placed in seclusion.
Data from the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody also shows that people detained under the Mental Health Act account for 61% of all deaths in custody.
Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said: ‘With SLaM mental health trust serving some of the largest black populations in the UK this public meetings offers one of the few opportunities for people from the community to find out what improvements have been made since the tragic deaths of Rigg and Olaseni Lewis.
It is important for people to attend because at the moment there is no other way for the community to find out what improvements have been made to ensure that other people aren’t subject to the treatment that Sean Rigg and Olasni Lewis had to endure.’
Lee Jasper vice chair of the Lambeth Police Consultative Group said: ‘The issue of mental health touches the lives of every black family living in the UK. SLaM serves areas of London, which include Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, where significant numbers of people from this community live.
We are calling on people to attend this meeting so that they can hear first-hand what this mental health trust is doing to make sure that what happened to Sean Rigg and Olaseni never happens again.’
The public annual meeting of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is on Tuesday 11th September , 5.30 – 7.00pm at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London SE1 9DD.
Nearest tube: London Bridge on the Northern line.