Senior leaders in NHS and public sector mental health care, who signed the UK’s first National pledge to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health systems, publish their inaugural progress reports on Tuesday 25th May 2021.
The pledge, launched by the Synergi Collaborative Centre on Wednesday 5th August 2020, features seven commitments to help counter the worrying lack of progress over four decades to alleviate the ethnic inequalities facing black and minoritised people diagnosed with a severe mental illness, including the disproportionate risks they face in mental health services.
Representing 28 of the 33 pledge signatories, the progress reports show that despite the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, there has been greater investment to tackle ethnic inequalities. This includes resourcing black and minoritised voluntary and community sector service providers and organisations, and recurrent funding for an annual grants programme to inspire a city-wide community response.
The reports also reveal where steps are being taken to become an anti-racist organisation. Alongside overwhelming support for the launch of a Synergi National Pledge Alliance, signatories call for collaborative leadership to accelerate the pace of change and identify new approaches. In some cases, there are attempts to rethink the commissioning process, making it more agile and inclusive.
Joy Francis, Co-Director, Synergi Collaborative Centre and Pledge Lead, said: “The pledge isn’t a lip service exercise. It is focused on productive, inclusive and meaningful action. The signatories’ unanimous support for the creation of a Synergi National Pledge Alliance to share the learning, challenges and create collaborative leadership for meaningful change is an example of what is possible. There is no space for inaction and ambiguity on ethnic inequalities and the impact of racism, amid a pandemic that has laid bare the devastating consequences of pre-existing inequalities on ethnic minority people’s lives and mental health.”
Warren Heppolette, Executive Lead, Strategy and System Development, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “We are pledge signatories because we recognise ethnic inequalities in mental health care are real and longstanding. Those inequalities mean some communities have a higher risk of experiencing symptoms of psychoses, an even higher risk for psychoses diagnosis, and are more likely to experience adverse pathways leading to poorer outcomes and follow-up. The idea of a Synergi National Pledge Alliance is about understanding how you drive meaningful, authentic and major change, which is what we are reaching for.”
Dr Sara Munro, Chief Executive, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Signing this Pledge marks our public commitment to bringing about real change within our individual organisations and across our city. Having a Synergi National Pledge Alliance will help us structure our thinking around key areas of work, identify gaps and see where there is potential to go further-faster across Leeds, and nationally, in partnership with other signatories.”
Marianne Fredericks, Chairman of the City of London Corporation Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Tackling health inequalities across the Square Mile is a key objective for the City of London Corporation’s Health and Wellbeing Board. Now, more than ever, we must redouble our efforts to raise awareness of ethnic inequalities in mental health and reduce them. As the coronavirus pandemic and economic impact unfolds, the risks faced by those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to grow disproportionately. We are committed to doing everything we can to tackle this issue for our residents, workers, and students across the City.”
Mayor Philip Glanville, London Borough of Hackney, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the stark health inequalities that exist in our communities. These have been especially apparent for our diverse communities, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and its economic effects. Building on the culturally sensitive work of the Mental Health Wellbeing Network, and the Young Black Men Programme, the Hackney Health and Wellbeing Board pledges to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health by working with our partners in the community and health and care system.”
Joy Francis added: “We are championing collaborative, creative and entrepreneurial approaches that have practical, real life impact, such as commissioning in a less hierarchical and a more community-led way. The pledge signatories’ progress reports are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a great deal more to do, but it is an encouraging start.”
The Synergi National Pledge Alliance will be launched in October 2021 and the second Synergi Pledge Makers Progress Report will be published in November 2021.
Read the full pledge here.