Restraint Death Prompts Racism Training For Mental Health
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 28, 2004
LONDON, ENGLAND--The restraint-related death of a black mental health patient has prompted the government to start a retraining program to address racist attitudes in the nation's mental health system.
The National Health Service announced Monday that it will train 41,000 mental health professionals -- from psychiatrists to mental health nurses -- in "cultural competence", to improve services for blacks and other ethnic minorities.
According to The Guardian, young black men are six times more likely than whites to be "sectioned" (hospitalized) under the Mental Health Act. When undergoing treatment, they are more likely to get anti-psychotic drugs and less likely to be given psychological therapies, the paper noted.
The death of 38-year-old David "Rocky" Bennett was one example of discrimination against black mental health patients, a recently-completed investigation concluded.
Bennett, a Jamaican-born Rastafarian and musician, died in October 1998 at the medium secure unit at Norvic Clinic in Norwich.
On the night of his death, Bennett was removed from his ward after fighting with another patient who had "racially" abused him. While resisting the move, Bennett assaulted a nurse. Five nurses then used "control and restraint" measures, holding Bennett face down while immobilizing his arms, ankles and upper chest for 28 minutes. After some time, the nurses realized that he was no longer struggling -- or breathing. They were not able to revive him.
He was pronounced dead a short time later.
Nobody was prosecuted for Bennett's death. Most of the nurses involved in the fatal restraint have returned to work at the clinic.
Sir John Blofeld, who headed up the recent review, said in February that Bennett's death was just one example of racial discrimination, what he referred to as a "festering abscess" within the NHS.
The report noted, among other things, that the nurses were not aware of Bennett's cultural needs, that they treated him as a "lesser being", and that doctors had prescribed medications for Bennett that were much higher than he needed.
The Institute of Race Relations claims that 12 black and minority patients have died "in suspicious circumstances" while in British psychiatric institutions since 1991.
"Race training for all mental health staff" (Guardian Unlimited)
"Rocky Bennett - killed by institutional racism?" February 18, 2004 (International Race and Refugee News)