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Black Thrive - Lambeth

Seni’s Law Seminar: Advanced Choice to Cultural Liberation 

(Trigger Warning: The following writing includes a retelling of cultural trauma that involves police brutality and unlawful death.) 

Written by Danny Danjuma 

Life on Mental Health wards can be challenging at the best of times, and while regulatory Life on Mental Health wards can be challenging at the best of times, and while regulatory organisations like CQC intend on improving that experience it is often in response to failings and incidents of that last that have come to define mental health legislation and practice today.  

One of the most of these pivotal cases in recent history was that of Olaseni Lewis or Seni as he was known to his family and friends. Seni a 23 year old student from Lambeth, was admitted to Bethlem Royal Hospital voluntarily on the advice of healthcare professionals in 2010. After some resistance to his detention on the ward, the police were called and 11 officers began to restrain him with excessive force leading to Seni’s subsequent murder. What followed was an incredible display of resilience and determination by his family but particularly his mother, Ajibola, who sought justice, determined that what happened to her son would never happen again to other people seeking mental health support. After 8 years of fortitude, the outcome was Seni’s Law or Mental Health Use of Forces Act 2018, which ensures accountability and transparency about restraint information, the publishing of data on the use of physical force and provides guidelines for the least restrictive measures.  

On 27th April Black Thrive’s Adult Mental Health Manager, Dr Colin King gave a seminar outlining the importance of this piece of legislation accompanied by Ajibola Lewis who gave a moving account of the events surrounding her son’s murder. The event’s attendees, a combination of community and inpatient mental health professionals, carers, and individuals with lived experience of accessing services all engaged in a shared discussion on how best to create a coproduced framework that supports the reality and well-being of people on mental health wards.  

With some positive feedback coming out of the session, the group focused on how culturally appropriate care is central to tools such as Advanced Choice Documents, the Parent and Career Race Equality Framework and influences the practices of all professionals from a new Lived experience racialised framework. The outcome was beginning the development of a CAPSA model to ensure culturally appropriate inpatient care and a continued commitment by attendees to furthering the discourse through bi-monthly meetings.