My role



Mental Health: let's lay off labelling

Mental Health Breakout Session - chaired by Barbara Lindsay of the Department of Health

Cordwell Thomas, an independent mental health advocate introduced the topic by outlining his role and responsibilities which are essentially to help people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. He is able to 'broker' services that NHS not in a position to do. He attends meetings as well as Tribunals and will advocate on behalf of individuals whether male or female. He welcomed the forthcoming Gender Equality Duty and saw this as an aid, giving empowerment to those who come into contact within the Mental Health care system. It was also a useful tool for employers to help them to improve the delivery of their services.

During the workshop the following points were made:

  • More publicity was needed in order that people knew more about what was available to them - essentially about raising choice(s).
  • African Caribbean people - especially males - were often perceived as being violent.
  • There was a need to look at training needs for medical staff (eg doctors); in particular the way in which they communicate with black and minority ethnic people. This should feature in the curriculum in medical school.
  • Care should be taken when prescribing drugs for certain groups eg BME people. African Caribbean males are often over medicated. The pharmaceutical companies also had a role to play if they knew certain drugs had a negative impact on some groups.
  • People are labelled — hence they do not access services they require.
  • Important to get both culture and communities to think differently; important to address systems as well as cultural shifts.
  • Should be recognised that women who have suffered domestic violence are frightened to stay on a ward with men. Therefore important to have 'single sex' facilities. The latter would also encourage men to access services too as often they do not believe there are services that meet their needs.
  • Need to do more marketing to encourage men to access services earlier. Men often felt services were 'male-alienated'.
  • Should not be 'one size fits all' culture as services need to be geared to different groups in order to meet their needs ie geared to race, gender, disability etc. Often too much emphasis placed on 'perception' of these groups.
  • VCS has a role to play too as they are often a source of advice. Similarly GPs needed to signpost people to the appropriate services.
  • Patients should have choices — and these should be made known to them so that they can ask for help or state their needs clearly.
  • In terms of men, the real challenge was getting them through the door in the first instance.

Back to full report on Gender Duty Conference, March 2007

Page created on April 11th, 2007

Page updated on December 1st, 2009