Black Mental Health UK’s Top 30 list for 2016
By Features Desk
Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK), has launched its Top 30 list for 2016, spotlighting those who have supported our work over the past year in addressing the injustice in the way in which the Mental Health Act is used against black people of African descent and the discrimination that they face from these services.
This list entitled 'Biggs Up' the best in the sector, is essential reading for anyone working in this area of health care or who has an interest in human rights, and in seeing an end to the institutional racism in both the police and mental health services that effects Black Britons.
BMH UK's Top 30 list for 2016 is of particular significance to people from the UK's African Caribbean communities, as the one group that continue to be disproportionately subject to detention under the Mental Health Act, even though there isn't' a higher prevalence of mental illness amongst this group.
BMH UK broke new ground in 2016 as the only Black-led civil society organisation that gave evidence to the United Nations and the Council of Europe's European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), that focused on the anti-black/African-phobic racism faced by African Caribbean communities living in the UK, particularly those who are forced to used mental health services.
BMH UK's Country Report on the United Kingdom, was presented by its director Matilda MacAttram, at the second European Conference on Anti-black Racism in Europe (CERAN II). The study alerted leaders in the Diaspora and the wider international human rights community to the injustices facing Black Britons. It focused on mental health, the criminal justice system and the state violence that Black Britons are routinely subjected to, including the disproportionate use of Taser firearm.
MacAttram said that significant breakthroughs have been made over the past year.
“BMH UK's parliamentary campaign calling for a ban on the use of Taser firearms against detained patients shattered the silence on a hidden human rights abuse that has gone unchecked for the past 10 years,” she said. “BMH UK's Country report on the UK's record on Anti-black/African-phobic racism that I presented at the CERAN II conference has meant that the injustices faced by black Britons has been pushed more widely across the international human rights arena.”
MacAttram says a lot more work still needs to be done to end the injustices faced by people from the community that come in contact with mental health services, particularly via the police both when in the community and while detained in locked psychiatric wards.
“Those listed in this list, are people who have in no small way assisted in the BMH UK's work over the past 12 months,” she said.
BMH UK's Top 30 for 2016
1. Lord Herman Ouseley. Among the most respected politicians from the community, this elder statesman has spoken in support of BMH UK's call for an outright ban on the use of Taser firearms against detained patients during House of Lords debates on the Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16 to 2016-17. More recently he has tabled a series of questions on behalf of BMH UK to establish what if any public consultation was carried before Home Secretary Abmer Rudd authorised the new more powerful Taser X2 guns and its potential harmful impact on black Briton.
2. Charles Walker OBE MP former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Mental Health holds one of the strongest records in parliament when it comes to advocating on behalf of BMH UK's stakeholders. During parliamentary debates on the Policing and Crime Bill he spoke out about BMH UK's concerns on the use of Taser firearms against detained patients. In this debate Walker called on his own government to commit to ensuring that the Home Secretary is notified when police are deployed onto psychiatric wards and that independent investigations are carried out into every incident as a way of addressing the culture of cover-up that currently surrounds such cases.
3. The Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, former minister of state for mental health and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health. One of the most effective politicians in speaking out about injustices faced by those detained in the mental health system. His backing of BMH UK's campaign call for an outright ban on the use of Taser against patients detained on locked psychiatric wards during parliamentary debates of the Policing and Crime Bill has taken this issue to the heart of Government. His amendment on a Taser ban was re-tabled in the House of Lords.
4. The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, former Secretary of State for International Development and ex chief whip has proved to be an unwavering ally to BMH UK. Mitchell continues to work behind the scenes over many aspects of our work to see an improvement in the treatment of BMH UK's stakeholders ..
5. Lord Richard Rosser Labour's shadow health minister backed the amendment supporting BMH UK's campaign demands for an outright ban on Taser guns in hospital after a discussion with BMH UK's director, Matilda MacAttram. Lord Rosser added his name to the Liberal Democrat amendment on a Taser ban in psychiatric settings and also tabled a further amendment calling for a review of Taser use.
6. Baroness Joan Warmsley Liberal Democrat Health's spokesperson's re-tabling of the amendment made by Norman Lamb in the House of Commons in support of BMH UK's campaign to 'Disallow use of Tasers by police officers on psychiatric wards'. This clause also stipulated that 'A police officer may not use a Taser or electroshock weapon during deployment on a psychiatric ward.' Baroness Warmsleys debate on this issue has ensured that BMH UK campaign demands and the injustices detained patients face at the hands of the police is an issue that the Government can no longer sideline.
7. Matilda MacAttram, Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK), leading the only agency that has spotlighted the need to end the use of Taser guns against patients detained in psychiatric settings. Her briefings to politicians and editorial in national and trade press have made the issue of the illicit use of these firearms a priority across the political spectrum. In the face of opposition from powerful vested interest, MacAttram's work has kept the human rights abuses and Anti-black/African-phobic racism facing black Britons on national and international human rights agendas in 2016.
8. Dr Kanyana Mutombo, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) former principal adviser on racism and director of African Popular University (UPAF).The driving force behind the phenomenal CERAN II conference, which was undoubtedly one of the highlights for the African Diaspora across Europe in 2016. This landmark event marked 10 years since the 1st and unique Conference at a European level for activist and human rights institutions committed to tackling the antiblack/African phobic racism facing black people of African descent.
This two day convention and conference dinner provided a much needed forum for human rights experts in the Diaspora from 12 or more different countries to share ideas and develop strategies for the work going forward.
9. Djamela Balcott nutritionists and health activists, a rising star in the Diaspora's human rights arena's. Her commitment to educate and empower the community to be able to combat the plethora of diseases and illnesses that disproportionately affect black people of African descent is an inspiration. Influenced by the greats like Dr Llaila Afrika and herbalist Dr Sebi, she has raised interventions on of diet as it relates to health and people of African descent at the United Nations in a bid to get the issue of nutricide and its impact on black communities on political and human rights agendas.
10. Simon Wolley, founder and director Operation Black Vote (OBV). A campaigner for racial and social justice who has used his successes to empower others from the community to do the same. OBV's dissemination of BMH UK's campaign updates to see a ban on the use of Taser guns against detained patients and ongoing support of our work is a testament to the unity of the anti-racist movement in this current climate.
11. Pastor Murillo independent expert, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). His questioning of the UK Government over the disproportionate sentencing and mass incarceration of black people within the UK prison system and the discrimination faced by black people within mental health services , during this year's United Nations examination of the UK's record on race equality, confirms that this lawyer continues to be a powerful advocate for Africa's Diaspora.
12. Francisco Cali Tzay independent expert and former president United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). His correction of the UK Government on the fact that black people do not have high psychosis rates during the CERD examination of the UK's record on race was noted and welcomed in twitter sphere and the community. Cali's pointing to the need for long term investment in black led and run holistic African centred models of community based support to address the disproportionate numbers of black people being detained in psychiatric hospitals is advice that the UK Government and Department of Health in particular would do well to take on board and implement.
13. Afiwa-Kindena Hohoueto independent expert, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). This senior judge questioned the UK Government over concerns at the disproportionate numbers of black people of African descent being detained in the UK's psychiatric system and the highly coercive treatment that they are subject to.
This intervention, which she raised during the CERD examination of the UK, confirms that the international human rights community have noted and are speaking out against the human rights abuses faced by Black Britons that come in contact with mental health services.
14. European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). This human rights monitory body's final country report on the UK's race relations record published in 2016 has flagged up the racism and discrimination faced by black people from the UK's African Caribbean communities that come in contact with the police and mental health services as an issue of concern. BMH UK welcome ECRI 'strongly recommending' that the UK Government place a focus on eliminating 'racial discrimination in mental health care' following BMH UK's briefing to ECRI on the abuses faced by those from the community held in this system.
15. The United Nations Human Rights Council's (HRC) adoption of a new resolution on mental health and human rights in 2016 signals the commitment by many countries to achieve and uphold the human rights of those who use mental health services. This resolution provides additional impetus for countries such as the UKs to address the issue of human rights abuses against those in mental health setting. Implementing BMH UK's call for a ban of Taser firearms against detained patients would be as welcome start in complying to this resolution in 2017.
16. United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT), this Treaty body's work in speaking out against human violations faced by those detained by the state has provided recourse for BMH UK to address many of the human rights abuses faced by black patients held in UK mental health hospitals. In the face of the UK government overlooking human rights concerns over the use of police stun guns against detained patients, CAT's conclusions that the Taser X-26 electric stun gun is a "form of torture" and concerns over the use of this firearm against people held in custody following their visit to the UK in 2013, have been a powerful impetus in securing cross party political support for BMH UK's campaign to ban Taser stun guns in hospitals.
Community mental health
17. David Pinder, mental health advocate and community activist. A mental health professional with a heart for the community who has spent his adult career supporting a significant portion of the ever growing numbers of people from the African Caribbean communities who have been detained under the Mental Health Act. His understanding of the need for timely and culturally appropriate support has served as a lifeline for many from the community who have been detained in these systems.
18. Alicia Spence, African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI), a health professional who daily demonstrates her compassion in serving people from the community who have been detained under the Mental Health Act. Successfully leading one of the few remaining black led and run community based services, this agency has proved to be essential for those from the UK's African Caribbean communities in need of mental health care. This organisation sets the standard - commissioners in this sector would do well invest in and replicate this model.
19. Vanette Wilson Nyabingi Mental Health Service, offering a myriad of support services on a shoestring to the growing cohort of people from the community who have been subject to detention under the Mental Health Act. Vanette leads a small team who continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide a support for many who have no other place to turn to for help in the face of swinging cuts to this essential service.
20. Kelvin Goodwin Black People's Mental Health Association, an unsung hero who goes way beyond the call of duty to provide help and support for many of the black patients from the community that have come in contact with mental health services. In the face of cut backs and growing pressures on these services, this professional continues to provides essential culturally sensitive support to those who remain one of society's most excluded and vulnerable groups.
21. Harry Sarkodie widely respect activist, his insight and understanding of the experience and treatment of those from the community who are held on secure hospital wards offers an important perspective in debates on mental health reform.
22. George Ruddock, The Voice Newspaper. Britain's leading black newspaper. Even with the demands of running a national newspaper George has ensured that the injustices facing black Britons that BMH UK are campaigning against come to the attention of The Voice readers. As the only agency that has campaigned for UK Government to acknowledge and commit to address anti-black/African-phobic racism facing black people of African descent and ban Taser firearms in hospitals, The Voice has helped BMH UK in our work to deliver our messages to very heart of Britain's black communities.
23. Paul Gallagher The Independent Newspaper. His investigative journalism has put a national spotlight on the injustices faced by black Britain at the hands of the state and the unacceptable levels of force that are routinely used against society's most vulnerable. In 2016 His coverage on Taser use against the mentally ill, brought to the nation's attention the military style policing that this group are subject to and confirms the widely held consensus that policing has no place in this area of health care.
24. Dan Parton, Mental Health Today, editor of the leading publication for this sector. His coverage of BMH UK's campaign work to address the injustices faced by black patients in psychiatric hospitals and updates our lobbying work to bring an end to the use of Taser guns against detained patients, has brought our messages on issues of ethnicity, health and policing to professionals working across the sector that are not picked up by other specialist press.
25. Basel Mahmood Voice of Islam Radio (VoI)'s coverage of BMH UK's campaigns has brought key messages about the injustices faced by Britain's black community to Muslims across Britain. VoI updates on our work has enabled the UK's Muslims communities to stand in support of BMH UK's campaigns for justice.
26. Pastor Desmond Hall Christians Together in Brent. A well respected leader in the community that walks the walk. Hall has given his time and resources mobilising his networks and congregation to support the campaign work of BMH UK. This is a leader who offers practical support to those in his own flock and also the wider community who have come in contact with mental health services.
27. Archdeacon Daniel Kajumba, Committee for Ethnic Minority Anglican Concerns (CEMAC), has used his high office in serving 'the very least of these'. He has supported the campaign work of BMH UK and opened doors to the most senior members of the Church of England who would not otherwise be aware of the injustices faced by the most vulnerable in society.
28. Jeffrey Muhammad, Nation of Islam (NoI) community activist and lawyer, with a sterling track record of advocating for member of the community who have suffered injustices at the hands of state agents. His support of BMH UK's campaign to ban Taser against patients detained in hospital has ensured our campaign updates are accessed black Briton's Muslims communities and activist on the front line.
29. Mick Nicholas, Black and Minority Ethnic Members (B&EMM) National Secretary, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) The most senior black member of the FBU, has made the time to support BMH UK's campaign work to ban Taser guns in secure hospitals. He has ensured that BMH UK's updates on our lobbying and campaign work has reached professionals in the essential emergency services from the community.
30. UNISON Black Members Group, the support of this influential section of one of Britain's largest unions has ensured that activists and unionists around the country continue to be informed and add their support to BMH UK's campaigns fighting the injustice faced by black Britain's that come in contact with mental health services.