Best Practice in Mental Health: Advocacy for African, Caribbean, and South Asian Communities

Best Practice in Mental Health: Advocacy for African, Caribbean, and South Asian Communities

Best Practice in Mental Health: Advocacy for African, Caribbean, and South Asian Communities

Best Practice in Mental Health: Advocacy for African, Caribbean, and South Asian Communities

Synopsis

This report aims to address the imbalance of equality within current advocacy policy and practice by providing an analysis of how effective advocacy projects are in serving marginalised communities who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Since the 1980s, an increasing number of mainstream mental health service users have become instrumental in facilitating the concept of Patients Rights. However, mental health services, including advocacy, are often paternalistic in nature and discriminatory in practice. This report aims to address the imbalance of equality within current advocacy policy and practice by providing an analysis of how effective advocacy projects are in serving marginalised communities who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Indicators of best practice are illustrated by featuring and reflecting the concerns and perspectives of diverse projects across the Trent and Yorkshire regions.The report: - highlights the importance of both independent and integrated culturally responsive advocacy services; - encompasses tensions and debates that currently surround advocacy; - makes pro-active recommendations, which offer practical advice on how to ensure user involvement and carer consultation; - provides Best Practice guidance for health authorities, NHS Trusts, mental health social services departments and voluntary organisations; - makes available a permanent resource that sets out a framework for delivering appropriate and sensitive advocacy provision.

Excerpt

This section provides a brief overview of the development of mental health advocacy. It highlights developments within the mainstream advocacy movement, and also presents issues specific to the experience of black and ethnic minority communities within a mental health context. Information and evidence is presented that support the view that mental health advocacy is a tool that is essential for facilitating black user empowerment within mental health services. the chapter emphasises that current advocacy literature provides very little information relating to black users’ experiences.

History

The emergence of advocacy began in Europe and the us in the late 1960s. However, it is important to note that advocacy is not a new concept: as a form of speaking out against discrimination and inequality, it has existed throughout the world, in a variety of forms and expressions, for much longer. People from all cultures, classes and ethnic backgrounds practise advocacy with and for their children, friends, elders and relatives. Universally, advocacy can enable people to make informed choices about, and take control of, their own care and experience. It can help people access information, understand the options of care available to them and, importantly, make their views and wishes known. There is a growing literature that reviews and charts the development of mental health advocacy (see for example Brandon, 1988; ukan, 1994; Wallcroft and Read, 1994; Atkinson, 1999).

The black civil rights movement in the 1960s inspired many other oppressed groups, both within the us and elsewhere. One result of this in the us was that former mental health service users began to come together and develop organised networks. This became known as the mental health patients’ liberation movement (Chamberlin, 1987). Service users collectively identified the struggle over power, loss of control and persecution, and in response began to advocate for self-determination and basic rights (Chamberlin, 1990).

Development of mental health advocacy in
Britain

In Britain, advocacy can be traced back to 1620. More recently, mental health advocacy took off during the early 1980s. During the last ten years or so there has been a flurry of activity, resulting in the unprecedented growth of service user forums, patients’ councils, self-help groups and national advocacy organisations. Collectively, these agencies aim to ensure active user participation in accessing appropriate support and treatment, thereby helping to identify unmet needs and promote the rights of the individual.

Patients’ councils (PCs), a form of collective advocacy imported from the Netherlands, was first introduced by Nottingham Advocacy Group (NAG) at Mapperly Hospital, Nottingham, in 1986.

Parallel to these developments, advocacy activists have achieved significant recognition socially and, more recently, politically. the hard work achieved over the last decade through advocacy has forced the government to recognise that advocacy and user feedback are important ingredients for effective and responsive services. nhs Planning Guidance 1998/9 states: “Give greater voice and influence to users of nhs services and their carers in their own care, the development and definition of standards set for nhs services both locally and nationally” (NHS Executive, 1997).

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