Olaseni Lewis: Mental health pilot in London to focus on ethnic minority patients


eams of mental health advocates trained specifically to help people from ethnic minorities are being trialled in London as part of a Government pilots scheme.

Lambeth-based company Black Thrive began testing the “culturally appropriate” mental health supporters in November.

The trial, which will particularly focus on support for people of black African and Caribbean descent, is set to run for five months.

The advocates are trained to “safeguard patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act” and support them “to exercise their rights under the law” – the Government said.

Black people are four times more likely than white people to be detained under the Act. They are over ten times more likely to be subject to a Community Treatment Order in the UK.

Mr Lewis, 23, died in September 2010 days after he fell unconscious while being restrained by 11 police officers at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Bromley.

“Seni’s law” aims to ensure the use of force against patients in mental health units is better governed and requires police to wear body cameras while carrying out restraint unless there are legitimate operational reasons for not doing so.

New guidance will also improve the quality of staff training and the way in which investigations are carried out.

Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: “What happened to Seni should never have happened. It is a testament to the perseverance of his family that Seni’s name will live on as Seni’s Law as it commences today.


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