Longstanding Creative Spaces partner Catalyst 4 Change, in Birmingham, have developed an action plan for change with African and Caribbean voluntary and community sector oganisations and service providers. Directors Sandra Griffiths, Beverley Stephens (both pictured) and Reverend Gerard Goshawk explain why, in the wake of countless consultations and reviews, reports, pilot projects and policy commitments, it is time for mental health leaders and commissioners to truly invest in the recommendations.

Synergi Collaborative Centre Stroke

The roadmap for change already exists

Catalyst 4 Change wholeheartedly supports Synergi’s statement of intent targeting the senior leadership of NHS mental health Trusts, mental health commissioning and public health to reduce mental health ethnic  inequalities.

Catalyst’s Directors have worked in mental health since the 1980s and have witnessed countless consultations and reviews, reports, pilot projects and policy commitments. However, not much has changed and evidence and debate continue to raise concerns about poor mental health experiences and outcomes within African and Caribbean communities. It is this frustrating situation that led to the creation of Catalyst 4 Change.

Working with Synergi’s Creative Spaces programme in Birmingham, we brought together African and Caribbean organisations, people with lived experience of mental health problems, statutory services and activists to discuss how we could improve the mental health and wellbeing of African and Caribbean  communities.

We had some honest and real conversations about the short-term funding of race inequality and black-led initiatives, and the barriers to improvement, particularly around power and privilege in mental health systems. We learnt that improvement will only take place when:

  • We talk about what gets in the way of change.
  • Statutory services and African and Caribbean communities work together as partners to improve mental health services and address the wider determinants of mental health.
  • Race inequality programmes and culturally specific services are valued and properly resourced.

Statutory services cannot continue to say that that they don’t know how to advance mental health race inequalities. The various reports, reviews and conferences that they have commissioned provide very useful roadmaps, frameworks and solutions for change.

Leaders of mental health services and commissioners need to blow the cobwebs off the numerous reports that they have produced to address mental health race inequalities, invest in the implementation of the recommendations and work with African and Caribbean communities to improve their mental health and wellbeing.