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 ascending Name Organisation Title
Yiannoullou Sarah National Survivor User Network, NSUN Managing Director
Yassin Mohamed Managing director
White Emily Refugee Council Therapeutic Caseworker
Watson Alex SQUISH Media Director
TUITT Cate Justice Ms
Thompson Robert RBKC Cllr
Tanner Jane Women's Resource Centre Policy Engagement
Swersky Adam Harrow Council Cllr
Sweeney Sarah Friends, Families and Travellers Health and Policy Officer
Sorba Luke Lewisham Council Councillor
Sohrens Petra Pathwayer Director
Smyth Gilbert Hackney Council Councillor
Simon Tom LB Camden Councillor
Shireh khadija British Somali Community Director
Shieh Jack Vietnamese Mental Health Services Managing Director
Sherman Zena CCG Miss
Sempare Diane Waltham Forest Citizens Advice Miss
Saunders Monica Richmond upon Thames Councillor
Saunders Monica Richmond upon Thames Councillor
Saenz Enrique AdviceUK Development
Rujak Hussein London Borough of Hounslow Social Worker - Mental Health
Ruiz Sarah London Borough of Newham Cllr
Roy Anjona Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council Ms
Roberts Tim London Borough of Barnet Councillor
Robb Monica N/A Mrs
Richardson Kathleen Counsellor-in-training Ms
Rahi Neelam Havelock Family Centre Miss
Qureshi Amana Race on The Agenda Miss
Porritt Luisa Camden Council Councillor
Piedi Filippo Mr
Pascal Elsa Lewisham Ethnic Minority Partnership Manager
Opoku Kwame Mr
Omar Ayah ROTA Project Officer
Omar Ayah ROTA Project Officer
Ohanian Misak Centre for Armenian Information & Advice CEO
Ogundayo Mabel London borough of Bexley Councillor
ODell Phillip Harrow Labour Party Cllr
Noel Christina The Wallflower In Wonderland Ms
Nicolson Krissie East End Trades Guild Ms
Nguyen Quynhnhu Miss
Nelson Dionne WRC DCE
Napal Dinesh
Nagulandram Rani Tamil Community Centre Wellbeing Coordinator
Morosinotto Sara
Morgan-Valentine Maggie West London Mental Health (NHS) Trust Mrs
Mohamed Kamal WestPoint-Sustainable Community Development Chairman
mistry kirit South Asian Health Action Charity Founder and Chairman
micklewright wendy
Miah Puru London Borough of Tower Hamlets Councillor
Mesaric Andreja McPin Foundation Senior Researcher