Black Mental Health Care In Crisis, Activists Warn

Here’s the Chronicleworld’s 9 “Why-to” and “How-to” Ways to Build Cultures of Health and Well-being

By Thomas L Blair, 11 November 2017© rev 13 Nov

Jacqui Dyer MBE
Jacqui Dyer MBE

The 70th anniversary of Britain’s National Health Service is poised to be the toughest financial year for Black mental health services.

In response, local councillor Jacqui Dyer MBE and political activist Patrick Vernon  are campaigning for Black Thrive, a partnership for Black Well-being. This in Lambeth, the London borough with a Black mayor, Cllr Marcia Cameron.

This is “precisely the time to dig seriously deep for money, because the impact of austerity is creating even more mental illness as people struggle to survive”, warned Dyer. African and Caribbean residents are over-represented and least served in the mental health services. A fact “ignored for far too long”, in Lambeth borough still reeling from the death in police custody of Black psychiatric patient Sean Riggs.

The horrific statistics spurred Dyer’s good intentions. For example:“Lambeth has the highest rate of psychiatric detention under the Mental Health Act in England”, according to the Black Mental Health Commission, and two-thirds are of Black African and Caribbean background.

Given the scale and depth of the crisis,  the plain truth is that mentally ill Black people are short-changed by the system. They are more like to be subject to sectioning and medication, lethal physical restraint, agonising death or incarceration — and there is no support after they are released.

No wonder communities and stricken individuals are reluctant to engage with services, and so much more ill when they do. Hence, the rise in human wreckage will reach disastrous levels every year help and hope are denied.

Humbling pleas of inequality and under–funding of Black Mental Health Care (BMHC) will not work in these tight budget years.  Therefore, activists must pledge to create their own development plan and raise the social capital to fund it. Here are nine principles and strategies to achieve this.

  1. Recognise that the Black Mental Health Care “crisis” is more than just a funding problem. Its roots are in the biased distribution of mental health services. Made worse by people-destructive priorities in the economy and society. The solution must include community-led self-study and mutual aid with the support of  Lambeth’s mayor Cllr Marcia Cameron.
  2. Learn from communities building productive cultures of health and well-being, especially in the Black diaspora homelands, in Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas.
  3. Create your Knowledge Base with culture-appropriate local surveys, observations and experiences.
  4. Lead in training local mental health clinicians to deliver the evidence for prevention, treatment, and health promotion.
  5. Launch Fair Media guides for journalists to encourage balanced reporting.
  6. Ensure that mental illness, in individuals and groups, is covered by insurance at parity with other illnesses.
  7. Support a community-led agenda with the assistance of key agencies, administrations and organisations, and scientists, clinicians, psychiatrists and anti-stigma campaigns.
  8. Promote voluntary philanthropy for Black Mental Health Care among wealthy Black celebrities and the better-off classes.
  9. Organise legal and medical defence groups to champion the rights of Black people with and prone to mental illnesses.

As you can see, this Chrononicleworld approach  encourages self-reliance, not moralisms,  hollow rhetoric and pleading. Rather, it complements righteous anger with positive programs worked out in their minute particulars. This is precisely the forward thinking that is required.

NOTE: For further information: Get Connected , browse the web read the Chronicleworld article on the problems and solutions to deaths in custody. Serious comments and debate are welcome.-


For your information:

The Mayor of Lambeth

Councillor Marcia Cameron (2017/2018)

Mayor of Lambeth Councillor Marcia Cameron

Councillor Cameron was inaugurated as the Mayor of Lambeth on Wednesday 19 April 2017 at the Annual Meeting of the Council. Cameron said ‘I am extremely proud to have been given this opportunity, to represent the people of Lambeth in the borough that I was born in and grew up in and I am looking forward to meeting residents, local groups, organisations and businesses during my term of office’.  Councillor Cameron has been a councillor for Tulse Hill Ward since 2006.