Rufus May asks whether we talk enough about race in mental health.
I often think about my friend Paul. We met in Hackney hospital in the eighties when we were both psychiatric patients. Paul was in his early thirties and Jamaican by background. His buoyant positive attitude and warmth was a great help to me during that time. A few years later when I was studying psychology, Paul contacted me again. He had been readmitted and was complaining of being over-medicated. Although he was still in his thirties he was dying of cancer. On top of that he was back in a psychiatric ward because of his distress. However, the only treatment he was getting was a massive dose of anti-psychotic medication. No-one was giving him counselling for what he was going through. I remember clearly his words ‘They’re giving me so much medication it’s giving me nose bleeds.’ The word that didn’t get mentioned in connection with Paul was ‘racism’.