chapter  12
24 Pages

The way forward

BySuman Fernando

As mental health care shifts from hospital-centred care to care based in the community, new ways of working are being developed. However, this does not mean that the past is necessarily left behind. For one thing, its aftermath, illustrated and described in Chapters 1 and 2, is all around us. The first part of this book indicated the serious problems facing any professional who wishes to play the game of community mental health care in a manner that is fair and equitable to all sections of the community. Clearly the playing field is far from level-especially for people from black and minority ethnic communities. As Chapter 3 pointed out, changes in the law in itself are of limited value-and, in any case, the pressures for change are not necessarily to do with improving the law’s sensitivity to cultural difference and racism. In fact, some of the pressures (e.g. for compulsory treatment in the community and for supervision orders), if sustained, may well result in a worsening of the type of inequities currently suffered by black and minority ethnic communities described in Chapter 4. Although people from these communities often turn to voluntary bodies to make up for the deficiencies of the statutory services, Chapter 5 painted a grim picture of the difficulties faced by the black voluntary sector.