Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Michael - Interview 31

Male
Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 15

Brief outline: Michael, 49, describes himself as a European Ashkenazi Jew. He has been given a variety of diagnoses, including bipolar affective disorder, personality disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, learning disability, and severe mental impairment.

Background: Single. Ethnic background/nationality: European Ashkenazi (Jewish) (born in UK).

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Michael, 49, describes himself as a European Ashkenazi Jew. He has been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. 

Michael was admitted to a mental health unit for observation as a voluntary patient. Michael says he was happy to be hospitalised in order to escape the sexual abuse he was experiencing in the community' he had been drugged and raped. Michael says he was also raped whilst in hospital by a visitor but could not access the physical health care he needed. Michael believes that the sexual abuse he experienced was not taken into account in hospital because of his ethnicity and because of his diagnosis of severe mental impairment which made it difficult in general to access care for physical health problems.

Michael disagrees with his diagnoses for several reasons' he says that his mania was caused by the drugs he was given in hospital and that he does not experience depression. Michael also says that when he was admitted, he was suspected of using heroin and given methadone and it was this that caused his symptoms. Michael says that it could be argued that he disagrees with his diagnoses because he is psychotic and mentally incapacitated. He says that he may have been labelled as delusional because he made serious allegations against the Mental Health Trust but he argues that these accusations have been backed up by investigations. Michael says that being diagnosed with learning disability and severe mental impairment meant that he could be given medication surreptitiously under the 'Bournewood gap'. He believes that patients were given drugs surreptitiously to provoke symptoms. He says that the staff involved have been sacked, suspended and retired but he's not certain if that is related to what happened to him or a coincidence.

Michael says his mental health trust was not able to provide culturally competent care. He says that the nurses in the hospital were mainly of African origin, and that their version of the social model differs from that of British culture, although ultimately, it is the white establishment that has all the power. He says that there was only a Christian chaplain at the hospital and when he questioned the absence of a Jewish or Muslim chaplain, he was given the impression that religion can aggravate pathology. Michael says that assumptions were made about him and his behaviour based on stereotypes about Jewish people and his religious education. Michael believes that each person has their own 'micro-ethnicity' that can only be discovered by talking to and observing people.

Michael says there is too much reliance on the social model of mental health (the idea that social factors cause mental illness). He says that the social model ignores bodily needs and relies on stereotypes and this could be avoided under the medical-legal model. Michael's view is that mental health problems can be caused by psycho-stimulants (amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine). Michael believes that drug education and testing should be introduced in mental health trusts for patients, staff and carers. He also believes that a Serious Untoward Incident investigation should be conducted in the event of every death (not just suicide) of a current or recently discharged patient.

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