06 April 2018

In his role as NSUN's London and BME Consultant, Raza Griffiths is meeting the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Health on his visit to London next week to discuss how to put BME treatment within the mental health system in the spotlight with the help of the United Nations.

The Rapporteur, Dainius Puras, is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

The aim of the meeting will be to introduce the UN Rapporteur to the Kindred Minds manifesto (this is a manifesto led by and for BME service users that Raza wrote with NSUN's support) and to explore how mental health campaigning groups and individuals can work with the U.N to put pressure on the UK govt. to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The UK govt has already ratified this Convention, but is flouting it.

Both the Kindred Minds manifesto, and the UNCRPD, call for an end to the use of force and detention, which are disproportionately used against BME communities, especially Black communities.

And yet, this practice goes on unabated even in this day and age.

Whilst meeting Puras will not result in any immediate changes on the ground for our community members who are locked away and subject to force on inpatient wards for example, it could serve to put a renewed spotlight on the issue at a time when the U.K govt claims to be undertaking a Mental Health Act Review.

And yet, this Review is not really referencing the UNCRPD in a meaningful way, perhaps with the idea that if the govt keeps its head buried in the sand, this anomaly will not be commented on.

Puras has in the past said things that chime with ideas for overhauling the mental health system towards a more rights based approach and fit well with what people have said in the Kindred Minds manifesto:

“We need little short of a revolution in mental health care to end decades of neglect, abuse and violence,”

“Mental health is grossly neglected within health systems around the world. Where mental health systems exist, they are segregated from other healthcare and based on outdated practices that violate human rights"

and

“I am calling on States to move away from traditional practices and thinking, and enable a long overdue shift to a rights-based approach. The status quo is simply unacceptable.”