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



Surname Name Organisationsort descending Title
Opoku Kwame Mr
Napal Dinesh
Yassin Mohamed Managing director
McCarthy P Mr
Chu Nhi Vinh
micklewright wendy
Morosinotto Sara
Piedi Filippo Mr
Nguyen Quynhnhu Miss
Chandramohan Segar
Crowther Anthony Mr.
Bande Lily Sutton West Councillor
Fraser Penny Ms
Ackah William Dr
Lofthouse Jane Miss
Balachandran Namagal 10 the rise Ms
Ennin Natasha Addere Community Advice Services Senior Community Consultant
Saenz Enrique AdviceUK Development
Chadha Rita Barking & Dagenham CVS Ms
Lumsden Donna Barking and Dagenham Council Councillor
Brayne Jessica Barnet Cllr
Bokaei Golnar Barnet council Cllr
Shireh khadija British Somali Community Director
Porritt Luisa Camden Council Councillor
Sherman Zena CCG Miss
Ohanian Misak Centre for Armenian Information & Advice CEO
Ahmed Solma Colchester Bangladeshi Women's Group Member
Clarke Barbara Community Learning & Networking Executive Director
Asmail Muna Council of Somali Organisations Mental Health & Wellbeing Advocate
Richardson Kathleen Counsellor-in-training Ms
Bhatt Anju CVS Brent Ms
Brazant Kevin Daddy CPR LTD Managing Director and Founder
Nicolson Krissie East End Trades Guild Ms
Jeffers Elcena Elcena Jeffers Foundation Founder, CEO
Asmail Zuhar Empower Others Miss
Akpinar Huseyin Enfield council Councillor
Field Mustafa Faiths Forum for London Director
Cataytay Alma Freelance MRS
Sweeney Sarah Friends, Families and Travellers Health and Policy Officer
Hall Joan Generation 2 Generation Ms
Cousins Ann-Marie Greenwich African Caribbean Organisation Ms
Smyth Gilbert Hackney Council Councillor
Chiriyankandath James Haringey Council Cllr. Dr.
Swersky Adam Harrow Council Cllr
ODell Phillip Harrow Labour Party Cllr
Rahi Neelam Havelock Family Centre Miss
Kaur Amarjit Hillingdon Asian Women's Group Mrs
Hassan Hussein Ilays Coordintor Ilays
Hassan Eng Hussein Ilays BAME Communite Hounslow Coordintor