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STUPIDITY IS A MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE / 1 February 2008

I am very pissed off at the moment. I do voluntary work for allsorts of mental health campaigning organisations such as the infamous Southwark Mind. I went to a meeting there yesterday and we talked about the closure of the Amardeep Project in my home borough of Lambeth, south London. Amardeep is a drop in centre for people of SE Asia origin. Amardeep is cultrally specific and supportive, run by staff of the same cultural background. It proved to be really popular to a cultural group who feel very alienated in the community.

After the inquest into Rocky Bennett and why too many Black men die in psychiatric care, it was found out that the mental health system is racist. Report after report said one of the ways forward is to provide culturally specific projects. There are other reasons to provide these. People from ethnic backgrounds don't engage well with mental health services. And young Asian women have the highest rate of suicide in this country.

What especially pisses me off is that they didn't just shut it just like that. They put a person who didn't speak any SE Asian languages in charge of the Amardeep Project, so people stopped going to the drop-in, and then said there was no demand for the service, and no point in it carrying on.

So actually maybe mental health services are not stupid but manipulative and cowardly, which unfortunately is nothing new. It is psychiatry's essential character. But it makes me mad!

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