Statistics show that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Here's how two organisations are gathering the stories of those affected to inform policy, practice, and support options.
BAMEStream is a collective of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) practitioners, therapists, policy experts, activists and academics who specialise in the areas of mental health and therapy.
Reported statistics show that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis; and so, the group’s core purpose is to raise awareness and undertake impactful actions to address the urgent mental health and wellbeing needs of the UK’s BAME communities. The alliance will be developing a bespoke bereavement service and a single point of access for individuals and communities to access free counselling.
"There is very little, if any, narrative emerging about the need for a strategy to address the specific types of trauma unfolding within BAME communities. Funding bodies and government need to urgently resource culturally appropriate, high quality therapeutic interventions to address these impacts".
Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, the first action from the alliance is the launch of a national survey in response to COVID-19, found here.
This survey will map out and provide a snapshot of all of the Black, Asian and Minority mental health and wellbeing services in the UK and provide insight into how they are being impacted by COVID-19.
Ultimately, the findings will be used to support the development and delivery of mental health and wellbeing services to ensure that the needs of the BAME community are being met as a result of this COVID-19 pandemic and crisis.
Members of the alliance spoke about the importance of launching BAMEStream:
Helen George, Founder BME Voices Talk Mental Health, said:
"The emergence of BAMEStream arose from the question ‘What are we going to do to support our Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities through this COVID-19 pandemic?’
"Our answer was to come together to ensure that through this crisis the mental health needs of our communities remain on the mainstream agenda and they are rightfully provided with access to culturally responsive services and culturally sensitive support".
Baffour Ababio, Nafsiyat, said:
"BAMEStream’s deliberate assembly of professionals and organisations provides a much-needed responsive platform to the unequal consequences of COVID-19 on BAME communities. The diversities of experience in this coalition uniquely position it to confront the toll of the pandemic on marginalized groups in our country".
Dr Yansie Rolston FRSA, The Ubele Initiative, said:
"Working with people from the BAME Community we see first-hand the toll that COVID-19 is having on people’s mental and emotional wellbeing, especially around death, bereavement and grief.
"BAMEStream is responding to an urgent need for easy access to culturally competent practitioners, counsellors and therapists".
David Weaver (Independent Chair, Coalition of Race Equality Organisations – CORE) and President of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), said:
"BAME people and communities are dying in disproportionate numbers as a result of this virus.
"However, there is very little, if any, narrative emerging about the need for a strategy to address the specific types of trauma unfolding within BAME communities. Funding bodies and government need to urgently resource culturally appropriate, high quality therapeutic interventions to address these impacts. BAMEStream’s specialist entry into this space at this time is critical".
Patrick Vernon OBE, social commentator and mental health campaigner, said:
"COVID-19 is having a significant impact on households in Britain especially those from BAME communities.
"When you lose a family member like I have you realise the importance of finding the truth and answers. COVID-19 is like to a mirror to the country highlight historical and everyday racism and discrimination and its impact on the life and death of BAME communities. We need a transparent and open process to explore structural inequalities with action and accountability for delivery for all".
Dr Yetunde Ade-Serrano, Founder, Black & Asian Counselling Psychologists’ Group (BACPG), said:
"In responding to a pandemic crisis such as COVID-19, highlights the disparity of power and privilege as well as access to resources. We know the dangers of a single narrative and hence BAMEStream is a collaborated union providing interventions directed for the community by the community".
Eugene Ellis, Director, Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN), said:
"COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the pre-existing schisms within our society and the stark imbalance of privilege and disadvantage even for highly qualified black and Asian professionals. BAMEStream is one of many much-needed responses to our hurt and distress".
Simone Harvey, Director at The Unmistakables, said:
"The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities has been hitting the headlines since the crisis began.
"The longer-term mental health burden is yet to be seen and it’s important to keep the debate going and not let this become a ‘minority’ issue. We’re proud to be part of the BAMEStream collective and look forward to working together to help drive awareness and provide better access to much needed nuanced mental health support".
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The Synergi Collaborative Centre is a five year national initiative striving to reframe, rethink, and transform the realities of ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness and multiple disadvantage.
Synergi Stories: COVID-19 eJournal survey aims to capture and document the narratives of ethnic minority people with lived experience of severe mental illness and their carers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Why is the Synergi Collaborative Centre launching a survey?
COVID-19 is generating great uncertainty and social and economic conditions that are adversely impacting people’s mental and physical health, access to equitable treatment and access to relevant information. This has been amplified by the new Coronavirus Act 2020 and emergency changes being made to the Mental Health Act.
The Synergi Collaborative Centre are concerned that existing standards in mental health services, which are already demonstrably insufficient, will be reduced. The centre is also concerned that essential knowledge is not reaching ethnic minority people with lived experience of severe mental illness and their carers, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, along with insufficient opportunities for their stories to be visible, heard and shared as part of a supportive community for change.
What will the information be used for?
Synergi will use the information you provide to create an online journal as a platform:
- To capture and document ethnic minority people with lived experience of severe mental illness and their carers’ experiences and narratives
- To build a community of knowledge and support
- To allow you to feel connected to your peers who are also facing similar challenges at a difficult time of self-isolation
- To create tailored resources that will assist you as ethnic minority people with lived experience, service users and carers
- To collaborate with stakeholders to consider how they can improve their services, engage and connect with you during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The information and stories you share through this survey will help shape our understanding of the challenges you face, and how you are coping, and will inform and influence the first phase of the Synergi Stories: COVID-19 eJournal, a new online platform for ethnic minority people with lived experience, service users and carers to creatively share their stories and inform our work and, ultimately, policy.
Share your stories
At the end of the survey, there are two sections (Coping with the COVID-19 lockdown and Your recommendations). Here you will be asked to share your stories, in a variety of ways, from inspiring quotes to poetry to short stories to images, and to give recommendations of what materials or activities are helping you to cope at this challenging time. You can choose to have your story published anonymously on the online journal when it is created, or you can request for it not to be published but to be used for information only. Nothing from these two sections will be published without your permission.
Find out more about Synergi Stories: COVID-19 eJournal here.