Treatment of black people suffering mental health problems questioned

At least 27 black people have died in psychiatric care since 1980,
but the actual figure could be far higher.

There is no central statistical record, but some sources indicate
that there have been at least 10 more deaths since 1998. The causes
include a shooting by police, drowning and “therapeutic

Details of the 27 are attached to evidence submitted by mental
health charity Mind to an independent inquiry into the death of a
38-year-old black man. David “Rocky” Bennett died in 1998 after
being restrained face down by at least three mental health nurses
at the Norvic Clinic in Norwich.

In its evidence, Mind recommends setting up an independent public
inquiry to look at how ethnic minorities are often failed by mental
health services.

The creation of a central database is also recommended to record
serious incidents and deaths in psychiatric care.

This would be monitored by the health service ombudsman,
administered by the Mental Health Act Commission.

Details such as ethnic origin, routes into care and an account of
events from the investigation would be recorded and the ombudsman
could recommend action.

The charity also recommends that institutions should adopt the
definition of racism stated in the Macpherson inquiry into the case
of murdered London schoolboy Stephen Lawrence as “any incident
which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”.

It adds that anyone subjected to racism should not be penalised for
reporting racist incidents, such as being moved to a separate

Mind also states that the Mental Health Act 1983 should be amended
to stop medication higher than the levels recommended by the
British National Formulary being given without informed consent.

It adds that there should be time limits on high dose therapy, with
physical checks and a full reassessment of treatment after certain
time periods.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.