January Meeting of CMHSS

Member organisations of the Community Mental Health Support Services (CMHSS) in North West Birmingham met at the Chinese Community Centre on 24th January concerning the "Talk to Us Project".

Eight people from this group have been trained as Independent Mental capacity advocates (IMCA), three of whom are involved in mental health support with the Chinese community. Amy Cui, Elly Lau and Anna Yim took part in the training at the Ladywood Community Centre in December. Others who went were Narender Kaur, Advocate at the Sikh Community and Youth Service, Aisha Aliyu from COPE Black Mental Haelth Foundation, Dilbagh Dhami of the Nishkam Cemtre, Akram Davoodipaneh from the Iranian Support Group (through Astonvision) and Vimla Dodd of UK Asian Women.

The fact that members of bme organisations were involved in the training at all is something of a breakthrough, since training was intended to be only for those already employed as IMCA. This meant that large organisations with influence are able to take commissioning opportunities unopposed. The long list of reports showing how intractible the problem of appropriate mental health support for bme communities remained unaddressed.

Support from two quarters has to be acknowledged. First John Sullivan-Blakeney as a commissioner for Birmingham City Council Social Care and Health Services recognised the need to involve bme oragnisations and individuals, and he persuaded the trainers to include them. Secondly Ralph Hall of Community Services Improvement Programme (CSIP) has been greatly supportive and has attended all meetings of NW Birmingham CMHSS and the "Talk to Us Project. He has given us information about IMCA and IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocates). This latter group is still to be trained and trainig programmes are still under development. We hope that a growing number of members of comunity based and bme organisations will be able to develop their capacity to give high quality professional services thus being able to tender for contracts from the health bodies.