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New centre to transform treatment of mental illness and ethnic inequality

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and its partners have received £1.2 million from Lankelly Chase Foundation to establish a centre for transforming health services for ethnic minority people with severe mental illness.

5 July 2017


The Synergi Collaborative Centre will be a joint project with the University of Manchester and Words of Colour Productions and over the five years will:

  • Collate, interpret and communicate data and knowledge on ethnic inequalities in mental health and related systems
  • Bring together the full range of stakeholders through models of co-production, and co-curation of knowledge, to develop and implement solutions
  • Use creative, digital and evidence-based platforms
  • Become a focal point for action, leading to systems change regarding ethnic inequalities in mental health services
  • Identify opportunities to reduce and prevent ethnic inequalities

Professor Kamaldeep Bhui CBE, from QMUL’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and East London Foundation NHS Trust, said: “The Synergi Collaborative Centre will assemble all sections of society to offer a fresh perspective on ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness, while taking account of the multiple disadvantages which act as drivers of inequalities.

“This area has secured little effective action due to disagreements about the evidence, sensitivities around accusations of racism and minimising the lived experience of ethnic inequalities. By capturing experiences of multiple disadvantage throughout the life course, the centre will inform the production of co-created narratives, which will be widely shared to drive systems’ reform.”

Cathy Stancer, Director, Equalities and Rights, Lankelly Chase, said: “Lankelly Chase’s area of concern is why people dealing with the most severe problems get the least effective support, often resulting in catastrophic outcomes.

“Through the many projects we have supported, we know that ethnic inequality in mental health remains an intractable issue needing new energy, creativity and collaboration. The creation of the Synergi Collaborative Centre follows several years of engagement with ethnic minority-led organisations who agreed that the way evidence, practice and communities connect is a crucial step towards changing systems.”

James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, said: “The centre will work with a full range of partners to identify ways of working towards and implementing solutions. A co-production approach will allow us to recognise and address the significant challenges in this area and develop shared, meaningful and creative solutions.

“This is crucial as there are marked and conflicting understandings of ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness: the nature of them, what is driving these inequalities and, consequently, how we might tackle them.”

For media information, contact:

Emmas Mason
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