Mental Health Equality for BAMER communities in London

23 April, 2018

Dear Councillor,

Congratulations on your election.

We, the undersigned organisations are calling for an end to unequal provision and access to Mental Health services for Black, Asian and Minority, Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities.

Research has shown that BAMER communities face disadvantage, reduced opportunities and structural and institutional racism (Kindred Minds, 2018: 3). People from BAMER backgrounds with mental health support needs are less likely to have access to suitable services, in particularly primary care, therapeutic and psychosocial services (Keating, Robertson, McCulloch and Francis, 2002; Sashidharan, 2003 in NSUN, 2017), such as counselling or group work that is culturally appropriate, or in community languages, and pathways into secondary mental healthcare services are often too rigid. This leads to increased inequality in the mental health of BAMER communities. Culturally sensitive, holistic mental health services are key to improving mental health outcomes for BAMER people.

This year the Mental Health Act, which governs how people are supposed to be treated and protected, is under review. A January 2018 Care Quality Commission (CQC) report shows that detention rates for the 'Black or Black British' population group are more than four times that for the White population group and 'any other Black background', are over 10 times the rate of the White population group.

Differences in provision between mental and physical health services are also well documented. Creating parity of esteem is supported by all political parties, has been highlighted as a priority by the Prime Minister and Princes William and Harry, and has broad support from the third sector and clinical professionals. Only this month Clare Murdoch, NHS England's National Mental Health Director, ordered Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to increase their spending on services for people with mental health support needs or face sanctions.

We call on all newly elected councillors to commit to the six points below that have been co-authored by Experts by Experience, user-led VCS and BAMER NGOs, to improve the design, commissioning and delivery of mental health services for BAMER communities and, therefore, reduce mental health inequality:

I commit to:

  1. Highlighting the need to provide appropriate, sustainable services for my BAMER constituents with mental health support needs in my work as a local Councillor.
  2. Addressing the multiple forms of marginalisation faced by BAMER services users and understanding how a broad range of policies such as housing, benefits reform, education, policing impact BAMER mental health and wellbeing. In line with Kindred Minds Call for Social Justice, develop a consideration of gender, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, refugee or asylum seeker status and levels of English proficiency.
  3. Holding my statutory colleagues, in the Local Authority and NHS, to account for meeting their duties under the Equality Act (2010) and the Statutory Public Sector Equality Duty (2011) in service design, commissioning, delivery and access, including the timely publication of Equality Objectives (EO) and Equality Delivery Systems (EDS). Proper and rigorous Equality Impact Assessments should inform decisions around making cuts to services to ensure that BAMER communities are not disproportionately affected.
  4. Championing the specialist, holistic services provided by local, user and community-led Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) for BAMER people with mental health support needs and advocating for the proper funding of the BAMER voluntary sector. Community organisations provide safer, more accessible, responsive, efficient and cost effective services that reduce health inequality and play an important role in preventing minor mental health problems from becoming more serious, thereby reducing health crises, costs to the NHS and Public Health and improving planning of delivery.
  5. Always reminding stakeholders that my BAMER constituents are not from 'hard to reach communities' and that genuine outreach and engagement will overcome structural barriers and unconscious bias.
  6. Ensuring Experts by Experience are involved in all stages of mental health service procurement, delivery pathways and mental health policy by signing up to and rolling out NSUN's 4Pi National Involvement Standards to ensure effective co-production, and improving experiences of services and support.

We would be grateful if you could show your support by replying to this open letter by signing up here, and tweeting #MHEquality #MentalHealth4All #HardlyHardToReach

We look forward to receiving your reply and working with you to reduce mental health inequality in your Local Authority.

If you would like further information or organise a meeting, please contact Laurie Lijnders at



Surnamesort descending Name Organisation Title
Abdullah Safia London Borough of Waltham Forest Miss
Achi Ake Right2workuk Founder
Ackah William Dr
Ahmed Ali ROTA Chair
Ahmed Osman Unison Union rep
Ahmed Fezzan Jigsaw House Senior Consultant
Ahmed Yussuf Islington Somali Community Mr
Ahmed Solma Colchester Bangladeshi Women's Group Member
Akpinar Huseyin Enfield council Councillor
Albert Concia One Westminster Mrs
Ali Abdi wlmht trust BME Specialist Advisor
Amanuel Monaliza Network of Eritrean Women Project Coordinator
Amuludun Tele ROTA Board Member
Asghar Naheed London Borough of Waltham Forest Councillor
Asmail Muna Council of Somali Organisations Mental Health & Wellbeing Advocate
Asmail Zuhar Empower Others Miss
Atterton Candice London Borough Hounslow Councillor
Bailey Eloise London Borough of Merton Councillor
Balachandran Namagal 10 the rise Ms
Bande Lily Sutton West Councillor
Bansal Harjit K NELFT NHS Foundation Trust Mrs
Barrett Dan Thrive LDN Deputy Lead
Baxendale Dylan Richmond upon Thames Cllr
Beckles James London Borough of Newham Councillor
Bhatt Anju CVS Brent Ms
Bokaei Golnar Barnet council Cllr
Bokhari Hina London Borough of Merton Councillor
Boothroyd David Westminster City Council Councillor
Brayne Jessica Barnet Cllr
Brazant Kevin Daddy CPR LTD Managing Director and Founder
Cataytay Alma Freelance MRS
Chadha Rita Barking & Dagenham CVS Ms
Chand Peter London borough of Barking & Dagenham Councilor
Chandramohan Suganthy Tcc Mrs
Chandramohan Segar
Chard James Richmond upon Thames Borough Council Councillor
Chaudri Komal London Borough of Hounslow Cllr
Chiriyankandath James Haringey Council Cllr. Dr.
Chohan Jaskiran London Borough of Ealing Councillor
Chu Nhi Vinh
Chung David London Borough of Merton Councillor
Clarke Barbara Community Learning & Networking Executive Director
Coelho Avril Liberal Democrats Miss
Colburn Elliot London Borough of Sutton Conservative Councillor for Cheam
Cousins Ann-Marie Greenwich African Caribbean Organisation Ms
Crowther Anthony Mr.
Das Dipa London Borough of Tower Hamlets Councillor
de Silva Don Somali Initiative for Dialogue and Democracy Trustee
Easter Ann Newham Council Rev’d Canon Councillor