Posted on: 24 February 2021

CNWL is launching a project around the disproportionate representation of patients from Black/African/Caribbean heritage being detained under the Mental Health Act and in crisis care pathways.

The project will be led by the lived experience of patients and carers who are, or care for a person of Black/African/Caribbean heritage who has accessed mental health services.

Get involved with the project

From early March the Trust will run focus groups to hear more about people’s experiences of mental healthcare. These focus groups will take place in Brent, Harrow, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Contact to take part

Staff are there to listen to you, in a safe space; we know it can be daunting to share your experiences.

Learning from other people’s experiences

To inspire patients and carers to come forward and share their experiences and recommendations, we’re sharing two interviews, one from a patient who has a lived experience in mental health care and treatment, and a carer who looks after her mum with mental health difficulties.

This is Damon’s story

“This project is important because it's inclusive of our voices, those of us with lived experience who can really shed light. It gives us a chance to embrace the subject of heritage, identity and society and its relevance to our experience inside the mental health system. This project has the ability to empower marginalised voices while also providing communicative bridges with carers, doctors and nurses to help them understand and identify what patients feel they need.

The social awareness of mental health has definitely increased globally and this in turn has benefited care in terms of sensitivity and different approaches towards patients other than wholly medical. Attitudes and enlightenment can always be improved and I do believe that new, fruitful care packages filled with inclusive peer support programs, lived experience mentoring and a more realistic setting of helpfulness are keys to moving forward for the benefit of patients.”

Damon spoke about the changes he would like to see through this project.

“I hope this project identifies commonalities in problems we face as black people experiencing mental health issues. I hope we can see behavioural and lived experience patterns so that as a collective we can help tailor to these needs and build greater support systems. I hope new projects will be built from these findings which employ people with lived experience to help facilitate changes in approaching this subject and a real sense of new direction in which we seek to empower those who feel powerless by including them.

At the moment being black with mental health problems comes with a strong stigma that has largely been ignored by care systems and by my own community. We can be vilified, outcast and left feeling abandoned with no real understanding in place. I would like to use my creative ability and mentoring skills to be part of these new projects and thus in myself find evolution of my own personal mental health journey. Changes for the better will allow my peers and I to embrace our cultural identity and our mental health experience proudly so that our integration back into society and/or recovery process can be more familiarised and natural.”

In the coming days we will publish Abigail’s interview on our Trusts news page, so keep a look out.

If you need more information on how to take part in the upcoming focus groups see this poster here.