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Shaping the Future of Mental Health Services for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities of Leicester and Leicestershire


The Race Equality Centre organised and delivered a mental health conference at De Montfort University on 20 June 2014. This conference was planned in association with De Montfort University, Leicestershire NHS Partnership Trust, Leicester City, West, East and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group’s, VCS mental health service provider forums and local service providers. The aim of the conference was to address and explore the inequalities faced by individuals, carers and families from racial minority communities when accessing and/or receiving mental health services. This conference was a unique event for Leicester and Leicestershire as it engaged 160 service users, carers, providers, commissioners, professionals, clinicians and others with a key interest in mental health to explore the issue.


Key note speakers at the event included Professor Swaran Singh from University of Warwick and Dr Suman Fernando, both are leading academics and consultants in the field of mental health. They explored the wider perspectives of addressing racial inequalities in mental health at a national and international level.


Through a series of workshops, debates and discussions participants identified key concerns and devised points of action for commissioners and service providers to address.


The issues highlighted include

  • Importance of addressing racial inequalities in the delivery of mental health services is a key factor due to the diversity of the population of Leicester and Leicestershire.

  • There are clear disparities in the delivery of mental health services to BME communities.

  • BME communities face barriers when accessing and/or receiving services which may include issues like language, culture, awareness or knowledge of personal entitlement to services etc.

  • Scope of services does not cater for the specific needs of communities.

  • Agencies need to come together to ensure that service users/carers are at the heart of decision making and commissioning process.

  • Evidence needs to underpin the commissioning process.

  • Service providers need to understand their roles and responsibilities in terms of measuring and identifying the impact their services has on the community.

  • The equality duties are they being met?, more importantly monitored and issues and concerns identified and addressed appropriately.

  • The impact of therapies and practices to improve the mental health and wellbeing of individuals – are they appropriate to the individuals.

  • Issue of young Black men and “sectioning”.

  • Constant use of drugs.

  • Does talking therapies work with BME communities – where is the evidence.

  • Underfunding of local community based mental health services.

TREC in partnership with its supporting organisations is using the findings and outputs from the conference to develop a formal action plan for a strategic group to implement.