Parliamentary debate to spotlight unequal treatment of black patients who use mental health services

Monday, 07 January 2013

Date: Monday 7th January 2013

The public safety implications of the ongoing failings of mental health services in the treatment and care of people from the UK's African Caribbean communities will be among the issues discussed at a parliamentary debate on disability and BME communities at 11.45am, House of Lords, on Thursday 10th January 2013.

The recent spate of high profile deaths of black men at the hands of the police while in the care of mental health services has once again put the spotlight on this issue.

Equality campaigner, Lord Herman Ouseley, is expected to speak in the debate and will draw attention to the serious matters set out in a dossier prepared by Black Mental Health UK on: the disproportionately high numbers of black people detained under the Mental Health Act, the use of police cells as places of safety, the coercive treatment this group once in the system and the issue of police presence on psychiatric wards. Deaths in custody and the need for more culturally appropriate therapeutic alternatives to the medical model of care will also be discussed.

The recent high profile deaths of service users, Sean Rigg, Olaseni Lewis and Kingsley-Burrell-Brown, who lost their lives after they were restrained by police officers while in the care of mental health services, will also be raised at this debate.

Lord Herman Ouseley said: 'The context of this debate is to focus on the growing numbers of BME people living with a disability. It is crucial that this debate highlights the unmet needs of BME disabled people in particular, the disproportionate adverse impact of the use of the Mental Health Act.

The gross unequal treatment of people from the UK's African Caribbean communities with mental health needs cannot be overlooked and will be stressed as an area for urgent remedial action.'

Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said: 'The public safety implication of consistently getting it wrong with one group of people when they are in need of mental health care cannot be ignored. It cannot be right that people fear for their safety and wellbeing in places that where they have been detained for health reasons.

The recent spate of deaths we have seen are of widespread concern, without a commitment to address this at the most senior levels nothing is going to prevent similar fatalities from occurring again,' Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

Open to the general public calls have also been made for people from the community and professionals working in this sector to attend this two hour debate.

Event: House of Lord's Debate - By Scope entitled Over-looked Communities, Over-due Change, on disability services for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds tabled by LordPaul Boateng.

Date: Thursday 10th January 2013.

Time: 11.45 am, please allow 30 minutes to go through security the long walk through parliament to the House Of Lords.

Venue: House of Lords, Westminster, SW1A OPW, nearest tube Westminster on District, Circle or Jubilee Lines.

For more information visit the House of Lord's website at or click on this link here.


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Notes to the editor

- Black Mental Health UK is a human rights campaigns group established to address the over representation of African Caribbean's within secure psychiatric care and raise awareness to address the stigma associated with mental health.

- Detention rates for people from the UK's African Caribbean community has doubled over the past five years during the period of 2005 – 2010.

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