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Wednesday, 05 August 2020

Reducing ethnic inequalities in mental health care

Reducing ethnic inequalities in mental health care

The UK’s first national pledge for senior leaders in NHS mental health trusts, public bodies and commissioning to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health care is launched today.

The UK’s first national   pdf pledge  (1.29 MB) calling on senior leaders in NHS mental health trusts, public bodies and commissioning to declare their commitment to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health care launches today (Wednesday 5 August 2020) with 30 inaugural signatories.

A ‘Statement of Intent’, the pledge is spearheaded by the Synergi Collaborative Centre in response to the lack of progress made over the past 30 years to tackle ethnic inequalities for those diagnosed with a severe mental illness, and the disproportionate risks Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities face in mental health services.

Against the backdrop of George Floyd’s killing, the Black Lives Matter anti-racist protests worldwide, and the systemic inequalities highlighted by Covid-19, CEOs, medical and nursing directors of NHS Mental Health Trusts, commissioners and public bodies (as pledge signatories) will take action to:

  1. Initiate fundamental service level changes to reduce ethnic inequalities in access, experience and outcomes.
  2. Measure, monitor and report the nature and extent of ethnic inequalities and progress made.
  3. Work in partnership with local BAME communities, service users and relevant community agencies.
  4. Provide national leadership on this critical issue.
  5. Ensure inclusive and sustainable change in our localities and communities.
  6. Support timely and progressive research and policy development.
  7. Contribute to a biannual progress update as part of this Statement of Intent.

Supported by Consultant Psychiatrist Professor Sashi Sashidharan, Malik Gul, Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network, and a range of NGOs, BAME community and service user-led organisations, including the National Survivor User Network (NSUN), the pledge is facilitated by Synergi’s Creative Spaces Network, which champions a systems approach to reduce ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness and improve experiences and outcomes.

Kamaldeep Bhui, Synergi’s Director and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said: “I’m delighted as Director of the Synergi Collaborative Centre to launch this powerful alliance between the NHS, local government, charity providers and BAME community groups in a national movement to transform mental health systems to be less institutionally racist, more enabling, thoughtful and inclusive; one that respects the workforce and acknowledges that all people need health care in the NHS.”

Vanessa Ford, Acting Chief Executive, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust said: “It has been known for a long time that there are significant ethnic disparities in mental healthcare in the UK. Numerous national inquiries and reports have highlighted this problem and local evidence confirms that ethnic inequalities in access, experience and outcome of mental healthcare are a major challenge within SWLSTG. That is why our Trust, along with Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network (WCEN), has commissioned the Ethnicity and Mental Health Project (EMHIP), which will work to understand the nature and extent of ethnic disparities in mental health care and reduce them in south west London. The project will monitor current patterns of mental healthcare by ethnicity, drawing on the knowledge and experience of minority ethnic communities, evidence from decades of research and professional expertise in this area to deliver a programme of improvement to reduce ethnic inequalities in service access, experience and outcomes in local mental health services. We have a real opportunity to do something different here, and as a Trust we are committed to working with our local community to achieve this.”

CEOs, medical and nursing directors of NHS mental health trusts, commissioners and public bodies who are interested in signing up to the pledge, will be expected to indicate how they plan to meet the seven pledge objectives, be willing to be part of a collaborative national network, and share good practice, challenges and progress every six months.  More signatories and pledge supporters will be announced in the coming months.