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In the wake of research revealing that Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals are more likely to experience negative outcomes from mainstream mental health services, health and well-being charity CEO, Monica Shafaq, is campaigning for change.
Monica Shafaq has dedicated her career to promoting the role of women and BAME individuals in leadership roles, she has chaired the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisation’s national Black and Asian Leadership Special Interest Group and has also been involved in a national group addressing Governance in the Third Sector, as well as being at the helm of national health and well-being charity, The Kaleidoscope Plus Group.
She said: ‘It is no secret that mental health issues are a taboo subject within many BAME communities, but the statistics are scandalous, and it is now time to rid the stigmas associated with mental health within our society. To help alleviate the worsening crisis, my charity, The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, will be rolling out national community engagement initiatives for specific BAME communities.’
The Ethnic Inequalities in Mental Health report states that, in general, people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are: more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems; more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital; more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment; and, more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
Monica Shafaq continued: ‘I am part of a wonderful BAME community in the Midlands, with many growing up with the notion that prayer was the answer to mental health concerns, which, while faith has a place, it cannot cure mental illnesses. As CEO of the Kaleidoscope Plus Group, my team and I work with a wide-ranging group of people. We find that those from BAME backgrounds can sometimes have different views about mental health conditions, for instance, some might see depression as a social or mystic condition caused by non-biological influences, which means that they may delay seeking professional help. We’ve learned a lot about the communities we serve and the issues that they face, and that’s why we’re leading the charge when it comes to tacking the challenges faced by the BAME community and mental health care.’
Monica Shafaq concluded: ‘In order to create a more inclusive mental health service in the UK, we need to actively promote services that understand a multitude of cultures. The pressures on mental health services are unprecedented, and our busy modern lives are definitely a contributing factor, but when you add in cultural and religious beliefs, our mental health services are undoubtedly, and dare I say it, unwittingly, allowing people to fall through the net.’
The Kaleidoscope Plus Group’s outreach programmes will form part of their latest initiative to reach out to BAME individuals affected by mental health.