The Origins of SACMHF

Sandwell African Caribbean Mental Health Foundation (SACMHF) commenced life as an informal Drop-in service for Black people living in Sandwell who were affected by mental ill health in 1994.  This Drop in service was staffed by Volunteers and the Drop-in service operated for 4 hours per week.  An already established organisation, West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre (WBACRC), supported the Drop-in by providing space within their building from which the Drop-in service was run.

The Volunteers were a group of Health Professionals who were concerned that there was no culturally responsive mental health provision in the region, coupled with a case that had made the National news of a Black man who was discharged from Psychiatric hospital without a package of care or support, in the London area.  This Black man’s health deteriorated whilst living within the community and without support and he killed a man.  This group of Health professionals were concerned that a similar event could happen in Sandwell and it was this case that led to SACMHF being set up.

SACMHF managed the informal and unfunded Drop-in service for some time.  Years later and after much negotiation with the local authority and the health service some funding was secured to extend the delivery of the Drop-in service.  These funds would serve to enable SACMHF to employ a manager and one outreach worker to support and manage the organisation’s service delivery.

Due to the demand for the service from within the Black African and Caribbean community in Sandwell, SACMHF needed to become a sustainable organisation and secured premises to operate from after having spent some considerable time being based at WBACRC.It was after settling into the Kuumba centre premises that work was undertaken to register SACMHF as a fully constituted Charity with the Charities Commission and Companies House.

SACMHF Today

SACMHF continue to operate today from the Kuumba Centre and now deliver various culturally responsive mental health services for the Black community in Sandwell and West Birmingham.  SACMHF works in partnership with other organisations who operate locally and nationally to affect change in mental health policy to reduce the levels of structural racism which continues to impede the life chances of Black people in the UK.

The organisation was founded to provide a culturally responsive mental health services in and around Sandwell at a time when there was a growing body of evidence which informed of the lack of culturally responsive services for the main user group, the disproportionate numbers of Black people (relative to their numbers within the wider population) who were accessing mainstream psychiatry and the poor experience and outcomes for people using mainstream mental health services when compared to the wider community. 

 The Government report, Inside Outside (March 2003);

Improving Mental Health Services for Black & Minority Ethnic Communities in England, noted that, ‘In September, 1999 the Mental Health National Service Framework was launched and it recognised that services were not adequately meeting the needs of Black and minority ethnic communities and that ethnic communities lacked confidence in mental health services’.SACMHF position as a charity is set within the context of known disparities and inequalities between Black and other ethnic groups and the majority white population. An example of pervasive inequality is that Black Caribbean men are more than 6 times more likely to experience higher rates of detentions under the Mental Health Act 1983 than any other group (Five Year Forward View; Mental Health Task Force February 2016).