PM to look at ‘institutional racism’ of black people by mental health services

Prime Minister Theresa May said she is “looking at” the treatment of black people by mental health services amid claims of “institutional racism”.

Labour MP Steve Reed (pictured) said young black men using mental health services were more likely to be subject to detention and “severe” physical restraint, as he called for an inquiry.

The Croydon North MP cited the example of constituent Olaseni Lewis, who died after he was restrained in a south-east London psychiatric hospital in August 2010.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May agreed the issue was a problem.

She said: “It is precisely because of the concern about how various people were being treated within our public services that this Government has introduced, I introduced last year, an audit of the disparity of treatment, a racial audit of disparity of treatment within public services.

“I saw this as home secretary, when I looked at the way that particularly black people with mental health issues were being dealt with, in terms of police and detention in various ways.

“That’s exactly the sort of issue that we are looking at.”

Mr Reed had asked: “Young black men using mental health services are more likely to be subject to detention, extreme forms of medication and severe physical restraint than other people.

“In extreme cases, this has led to death, including that of my constituent Olaseni Lewis.

“Too many black people with mental ill health are afraid to seek treatment from a service they fear will not treat them fairly.

“Will the Prime Minister meet with me and some of the affected families to discuss the need for an inquiry into institutional racism in mental health services?”

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