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​Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Mental Health Summit

Beverley Weston sharing her professional point of view during the lived-experience talks.jpgIn July 2018 the Lewisham Health and Wellbeing Board agreed that their main areas of focus should be tackling Health Inequalities, and as an initial priority Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities Health.  As a result, a summit to engage local community members in an ongoing dialogue to explore ways to tackle BAME health inequalities around mental health was held on the 8 October 2018. 

The event was jointly organised by the CCG and Lewisham Council. Healthwatch and Lewisham BME network participated in the preparation and delivery of the event that had over 80 participants: patients, carers and also representatives from a variety of community groups, CCG Public Reference Group members, commissioners and providers.

The evening started with a welcome message from Cllr James Rathbone, Lewisham Mental Health Champion and an introduction by Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan. This was followed by a summary by the Joint Commissioning Lead for Adult Mental Health in Lewisham. 

Barbara Gray, from Lewisham BME Network, led the session on lived experience of mental ill-health, where the three speakers shared their perspective from a carer, a mental health professional and a service user point of view. The talks were followed by small group discussions that focused on 8 key themes proposed by the summit participants when they registered for the event:
  • Role of faith and faith groups in BAME mental health 
  • Culturally specific services for BAME communities
  • Mental health and other health conditions in BAME communities
  • Mental health, employment and housing in BAME communities
  • Mental health and wellbeing across the life course in BAME communities
  • Mental health in men in BAME communities
  • Mental health, education and the criminal justice system
  • Support for community groups to meet BAME mental health needs
Cllr James Rathbone said “The conference exceeded my wildest expectations, and the information it generated will be vital as we go forward. It was fantastic to see so many people having open and honest conversations about mental health and the challenges we face in Lewisham.”

The key themes were summarised as key items for action by the Health Wellbeing Board:
  • Stigma - the widespread stigma around mental health issues needs to be addressed. 
  • Communication - improved communication around what is already happening within in terms of both community and statutory services.
  • Early intervention - there were many comments about the need for earlier intervention with young people, via education and other routes to prevent mental ill health.
  • Genuine co-production - from both the feedback forms and discussion it was evident that there needs to be a clear mechanism for genuine dialogue and co-production with BAME communities for both mental and physical health.
  • Cultural competence of services: There were discussions around understanding both the need for and benefits of culturally specific services, and the potential benefits of seeing a professional from a similar background as your own. 
Many participants signed up to hear and participate in future co-production events.
Our Equalities information showed that, even if well attended and very diverse, the number of participants from Asian groups, and Muslim residents were under-represented. We hope to engage more efficiently with these groups in future conversations.

Following the session with colleagues at Lewisham Council we have had further discussions with the BME Network. We co-produced with them a specification and appointed a facilitator from the network who will run a meeting with the BME Network and the Health and Wellbeing Board. At the meeting, which will take place on 7 March 2019, discussions will focus on approaches to sustainable co-production to support commissioning of all age mental health services. 

We are also working with colleagues in Lewisham Council and our providers to develop a mental health provider alliance that will enable staff from different organisations and professions to work together better. This will lead to improvements including a balanced system of mental health care and support that provides preventative and proactive support, is accessible for all and co-ordinates care around our patients and carers. A key element of this will be co-production with our residents. 

If you want to hear more about mental health in Lewisham, participate in future conversations, or hear about health activities and campaigns in Lewisham please contact us by email.

Additional information