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2015 National Black Members' Conference
16 September 2014
Carried as Amended

Physical and mental well-being cannot be taken for granted, especially in today’s climate of an ever increasing workload, job cuts, austerity measures in services and service providers, the threat of redundancy and the pressure for some securing and sustaining employment, workplace stress, are some of the factors many people are now trying to deal with. Mental Health can affect anyone, sadly the fact is, everyone will know of someone who has mental health issues, or is related to someone with mental health problems, or has a work colleague who is, or has been suffering mental health problems. Often mental health sufferers are frightened or reluctant to seek help because of fear, repercussions in the workplace, fear of the treatment provided or the stigma that surrounds it. Mental health is an illness that is often miss – understood, miss diagnosed, miss treated and stigmatized.

The Mental Health Foundation studies has reported “In general , people from Black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK , are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems, be admitted to hospital, disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and further mental health deterioration “. Mental health is similar to other illness, in which there are various stages and severities, the Mental Health Foundation suggests “mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain”. Also “African Caribbean people are three to five times more likely than any other group to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for schizophrenia”.

Conference notes that isolation at work can place Black lesbian gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people at increased risk of mental ill-health. However, being Black and LGBT with mental ill-health is particularly detrimental as many services do not recognise the complexities of multiple identities. Misconceptions due to assumptions around sexual orientation and gender identity do little to encourage Black disabled LGBT people to seek assistance or access the information they need. This was highlighted in the research undertaken by Stonewall and the Runnymede Trust, published in their 2012 report “One Minority at a Time”. It is disappointing that the views of Black transgender people were not included in their research. Some services that did exist to meet the mental health needs of Black disabled LGBT members have lost funding due to the austerity measures of this government. The NatCen research Report “Implications of austerity for LGBT people and services” shows the impact that the loss of targeted services can have.

Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK), is an organisation that has been set up to address the aberrant “inequalities in the treatment and care of people from African Caribbean communities” where there is an “over representation of Black people at the coercive end of psychiatric care” and To “inform these communities on how to influence the strategic development, policy design and implementation of service”

It has been reported in the Birmingham Evening Mail on the 15th September 2014, that the murder of a schoolgirl on her way to school on a Birmingham bus in March 2013, could have been avoided. A 25 year old Black male with a 10 year history of paranoid schizophrenic, has now been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act. How many more lives will be affected by mental health, raising awareness is only the beginning.

Therefore conference calls upon the NBMC:

1)To work with Black Mental Health UK to encourage and raise awareness about their work so that UNISION members may be encouraged to get involved;

2)To liaise with UNISION welfare “There for You”

3)An updated article in Black Action about the work of Black Mental Health UK and other Black Mental health organizations.