A disability charity has criticised the government’s omission of
refugees and asylum seekers from a report setting out its strategy
for ethnic minority mental health.
Speaking at a conference on best practice for professionals working
in mental health services for people from ethnic minorities,
Greater London Action on Disability (Glad)chief executive Reg
McLaughlin said the omission was of particular concern because this
group was often greatly in need of such services.
“Refugees and asylum seekers are glaringly missing from the report
and, when you think that a lot of them come in from very difficult
war-torn backgrounds and subsequently have mental health needs,
that makes it even more necessary,” he said.
He went on to criticise the report’s failure to mention ethnic
minority mental health user-led groups, which Glad believes
represent best practice, empowering those who run them. “If you
involve users and survivors in the whole system then you will get
the services that they want,” he said.
He added that Glad wanted to see users and survivors on every
mental health trust and highlighted the fact that, despite the
over-representation of ethnic minorities in the mental health
system, there were still few ethnic minority user-led groups.
Glad said many mental health professionals working with ethnic
minorities currently did not place much value on user and survivor
involvement, seeing them as “ill”.
McLaughlin explained that, while attempting to create a network of
users and survivors, Glad had encountered resistance from those
working in the sector. “The block on us engaging with users and
survivors was the professionals at the door,” he said.
Albert Persaud, a senior policy adviser at the Department of Health
who was also speaking at the conference, said the report outlined
the need to make the voluntary sector a part of mainstream services
in ethnic minority mental health.
He added that currently the voluntary sector across the board was
“not being positioned in a pivotal part of service delivery”, and
that it needed to work more closely with local communities.
– The government’s report, Inside Outside, from www.nimhe.org.uk