On 21st April, organisations from across Sheffield gathered at Sorby House to discuss how to improve quality in mental health services for the BME community.
There are many issues faced by BME communities when accessing mental health services. Somali Mental Health's (Maan) Saeed Abdi explained,
“Community organisations working in mental health – like Maan – continue to struggle to create a bridge for communities into the mainstream mental health services at the same time as helping the community health and social service teams to deliver appropriate, culturally-sensitive services.”
The MAAT probe group
Part of the conference looked at last October’s report by the Maat Probe group, supported by the local mental health project SACHMA. The results of the report showed that service users from black and ethnic minority communities felt they were mistreated by some mental health services. The report became a focus for the conference, and Sheffield Care Trust, responsible for mainstream mental health services in the city, aimed to respond to the issues raised,
“Staff in the Trust are thankful to the Maat Probe group for providing us with such powerful feedback about our services. We have listened to Maat and created an action plan which responds to each of the Maat recommendations.”
“Firstly Maat asked us to explore alternatives to the training we give our staff in preventing and managing violent behaviour. During the next year we will develop our training to improve how we work with people who may be getting angry or violent.
“Next we have considered ways to increase the numbers of staff from different BME communities who work for the trust.
“Our next steps are to meet with the Maat probe group to discuss and plan how we can work together to achieve their recommendations and develop better, safer services for everyone.”
Members of the Maat Probe Group told the Messenger:
“The Maat Group feels that the PCT and Health and Social Care Trust have much to learn about service-user engagement that is based outside their organisation and their control.
“The Maat Probe will be having further discussions with both organisations to resolve a number of issues and build a more beneficial working relationship.”