The facts related to the unequal mental health and wellbeing outcomes make a compelling case for why we must prioritise the improvement of prevention and treatment of mental illness amongst Lambeth's black residents.
Whilst many people and services are doing their best to support individuals and communities, there is still too little emphasis and investment in preventing illness, intervening early and supporting people in the community.
Two thirds of the nearly £70 million spent in the borough on mental health goes into hospital care and only a tiny fraction is spent on prevention.
Examining education and support for our young people shows the potential benefits of investing more heavily in prevention and early intervention. Half of all lifetime mental health conditions start before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 24. In Lambeth it is estimated there are 4,728 children (under 16-year-olds) with a mental health condition and yet only 799, just 17%, are receiving Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) support. That means that 83% of our children with a mental health condition are not being treated by CAMHS.
Public health officials estimate that for every £1 spent on social and emotional education, building mental health resilience in children, £84 is saved in the longer term.
People from the black community are disproportionately exposed to factors, like poverty, that increase their likelihood of developing a mental illness. Everyone in Lambeth needs to work together to eradicate poverty, poor housing, abuse, substance misuse and lack of opportunity. These are big challenges but if we start by improving social and emotional education, early intervention and the experience of those with mental illness we will reduce one of the starkest areas of inequality in the borough.
Black people in Lambeth do not constitute a single, homogenous group but we as a whole community cannot ignore the evidence that shows people of African and Caribbean descent are suffering disproportionately when it comes to mental health. We are also well aware that mental illness is not confined to black people and the changes we suggest should benefit everyone in Lambeth regardless of their background.
Read more about the Black Health and Wellbeing Commission's recommendations about how we might work together to address improving prevention of mental illness, access of support and experience with services.
This report explores how pathways for people from BAME communities can be more effectively integrated to provide the most appropriate and timely support for those with mental health needs who are in contact with, or end up in, the criminal justice system.
Latest news and published research on mental health and its impact on communities can be accessed here.
The Lambeth Black Caribbean Insight report outlines the findings of research undertaken to gain a better understanding of the Black Caribbean community in Lambeth.
The death of Sean Rigg prompted the launch of the Black Health and Wellbeing Commission in October 2013.