On the 16th April 2020, I hosted an online roundtable meeting with some key professionals, organisations and networks to discuss COVID-19 and the impact that the pandemic was having on our Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

Every day I had been receiving news of someone within my own community dying. Every time I was logging onto Facebook there was another devastating Rest in Peace (RIP) message. Even as I write this, I have just heard the news of my friend’s son losing his life to COVID-19 and in a couple of days, I will be saying my final goodbye to another friend Celia via my laptop – where I will be watching her funeral being streamed online. This has become our reality; our people dying at an alarming and disproportionate rate and none of us being able to say goodbye, grieve or start to heal individually, collectively or as a community whilst this pandemic continues to wreak havoc amongst us.

I also can’t ignore the other difficulties being experienced within our communities. I am mindful of the women who are experiencing domestic abuse during this lockdown; individuals who have had their life-saving treatment and surgeries paused; the vulnerable who are having to shield themselves and self-isolate from their family and friends; individuals who are going through this pandemic all on their own and those whose health anxieties and mental health has been severely impacted. There are too many difficulties to mention.

Out of a series of meetings between us all emerged ‘BAMESTREAM’

 

LAUNCH OF NEW ALLIANCE OF BAME MENTAL HEALTH THERAPISTS AND CAMPAIGNERS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

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 as such, 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.

Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, the first action from the alliance is the launch of a National Survey in response to COVID-19*

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.

 

The members of the alliance spoke about the importance of launching BAMESTREAM

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.
Helen George, Founder BME Voices Talk Mental Health.

 

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.
Baffour Ababio, Nafsiyat

 

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.
Dr Yansie Rolston FRSA, The Ubele Initiative

 

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.
David Weaver (Independent Chair, Coalition of Race Equality Organisations – CORE) and President of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

 

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.
Patrick Vernon OBE, social commentator and mental health campaigner

 

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.
Dr Yetunde Ade-Serrano, Founder, Black & Asian Counselling Psychologists’ Group (BACPG) 

 

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.
Eugene Ellis, Director, Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN)

 

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.
Simone Harvey, Director at The Unmistakables

 

If you are a BAME led mental health service in the UK please do complete our survey. Please also share with all your networks. 

I look forward to updating you in the near future.

Helen signs

*The National Survey on Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) mental health services in the United Kingdom (UK). The closing date for responses is 29 May 2020.

 

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