Headlines: May 24th, 2007



More than a million pounds is being made available to fund 40 new projects across England as part of a drive to build stronger links between local mental health services and people in black and ethnic minority communities. A first wave of community engagement sites has already been set up to work with communities and service providers to raise awareness of mental health issues, reduce levels of fear and improve support for patients and their carers.

The projects, which are part of the Delivering Race Equality action plan for reducing inequalities and discrimination, are also designed to improve understanding of what ethnic minority communities need from services. The object is to improve access to services and the experience of using them for the groups.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton told a symposium on prison health issues for minority communities that the problem was clear. “Too many young black men with mental health problems only get the help they need when they get into trouble with the law.,” she said and added, “As well as improving access to mental health treatment in prisons, we need to do more to ensure problems are identified and treated earlier.”

Community engagement projects, she said, were already making a difference but as a next step she announced the 40 new projects to further the reach of the existing ones that were already forging productive relationships. There was a need, she said, to reduce fear of mental illness in minority communities and to encourage those with problems to seek help sooner. Services needed to adapt to the needs of communities and offer care that was more successful in avoiding the need for detention in hospital and which could prevent mental illness leading to a prison sentence.