Tackling Mental Health: Birmingham conference made its mark

Tippa Naphtali of Catalyst 4 Change

Tippa Naphtali of Catalyst 4 Change – Image Credit Veron Graham

source: The Voice Online
published: 14 December 2017

A rallying cry for black communities to play a greater part in their own wellbeing and push for improvement was made at a mental health conference in Birmingham on 25 November 2017.

Self-reliance and self-determination were themes that echoed throughout Stepping Out for Our Community, in which the harsh realities of fifty-plus years of failed policies and overlooked recommendations were brought into sharp focus by eminent speakers with tragic personal accounts alongside professional experience of mental illness.

Joanna Bennett, a professor of mental health with a 30- year history of campaigning for change in the UK and the Caribbean, talked to delegates at The H Suite conference in the Edgbaston area of the city through reports, enquiries and legislation dating back to the 1960s, en route to a damning conclusion: their failure to stem the tide of people of African and Caribbean heritage being subject to more control, restraint and resuscitation techniques and prescribed stronger medication.

Prof Bennett also shared the story of how in October 1998 her brother David ‘Rocky’ Bennett died after being restrained face down for 28 minutes by five nurses in the medium secure unit he was staying in to receive treatment. “The same issues about the overuse of restraint and resuscitation came up when I read the report into my brother’s death. I am determined to fight to stop these things happening.”

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Note / Correction:

In the final paragraph under ‘CONCERN’, Tippa Naphtali has said this should read;

“C4C will nurture developing community [mental health] organisations and fund culturally-aware research. [Naphtali and the Mikey Powell Campaign were one of ] the driving forces behind the implementation of Street Triage, an initiative that sees police officers joined by paramedics and qualified practitioners to prevent people with mental health issues being put in custody.”