Black People and Mental Health

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2014 National Disabled Members' Conference
3 July 2014
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern the findings of the 2005 “Count Me In” census in England and the following censuses that people from Black Caribbean, Black African and other Black backgrounds are over represented in psychiatric care. Indeed, in May 2013, Health Minister Norman Lamb said in the House of Commons that “something [was] wrong” with the treatment of black people in the mental health system which could “not go unchallenged”.

We also note with concern a 2004 report (Ethnic Minority Psychiatric Illness Rates in the Community) that common mental illness such as depression and anxiety account for up to a third of days lost at work. With stress and bullying on the increase in the workplace, these are the two main causes for mental distress in the workplace.

A recent social exclusion report acknowledges that Black people are more likely to be dissatisfied with statuary mental health services and twice as likely to disagree with a diagnosis.

Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee (NDMC) to:

1)Publicise World Mental Health Day which is held annually on 10th October in all appropriate publications

2)Work with appropriate bodies to publicise the support that UNISON offers including ThereForYou and training course on how to manage stress in the workplace

3)Highlight to branches and regions what constitutes a disability with regards to mental ill health under the Equality Act 2010 and support members in seeking reasonable adjustments.

4)Work with the National Black Members Committee to highlight the disparities in mental health provisions

5)Encourage regions and branches to recognise that mental ill health is a workplace issue

6)Encourage branches to ensure that workplace sickness policies recognise mental ill health