Race, ethnicity and the mental health strategy
Posted Monday 31 October 2011
In the final blog marking Black History Month, Diverse Minds manager Marcel Vige looks at how we can keep black and minority ethnic groups on the Government's mental health agenda in hard economic times.
With the challenges facing the country at the moment, (wage freezes, stagnant economic growth, financial turmoil throughout Europe), now might seem the best time for a new mental health strategy, a response to the stress and anxiety that accompany such troubled times.
At the same time, the financial turbulence has also led to swingeing cuts in public finances, which limit the possibility of investing in initiatives which support mental wellbeing.
This is the background in which the Government will implement its mental health strategy No Health Without Mental Health. As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s timely to reflect on what all of this means for tackling the shocking disparities shown in 'Count Me In', the national mental health census.
An immediate consequence of the cuts in public finances was to increase the rate of decline in grass-roots community services that focus on supporting the diverse ethnic groups.
As existing services disappear, the skills and passion of their staff are often lost to the sector. While the mental health strategy does have a local focus (encouraging community-based support initiatives), the ongoing loss of infrastructure currently and the lack public funds mean it’s far from clear how the strategy will achieve its stated aim of tackling ethnic inequality.
November the second sees the coming together of service users, organisations and individuals with expertise in race/ethnicity and mental health at a meeting called by the mental health think tank RawOrg (Rights and Wellbeing of Racialised Groups).
The purpose of this meeting is to explore how in light of all of these challenges, the mental health strategy can be made as effective as possible for minority ethnic groups.
Although the strategy will continue to shaped by wider economic forces, it’s fitting that the voice of those who disproportionately experience the most coercive parts of the mental health system shape how the strategy is implemented.
Marcel Vige, Diverse Minds manager
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