The Leeds Mental Health Racial Equality Partnership, also known as Synergi-Leeds, won the Mental Health Innovation of the Year award at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards. They were recognized for their efforts in tackling racial inequities in mental health services and were also finalists in the NHS Race Equality Award category.
What award did the Leeds Mental Health Racial Equality Partnership win?
The Leeds Mental Health Racial Equity Partnership won the Mental Health Innovation of the Year award at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards. The partnership, known as Synergi-Leeds, was also a finalist in the NHS Race Equality Award category, recognized for its efforts in tackling racial inequities in mental health services.
An innovative programme in Leeds has garnered national attention by winning a prestigious accolade at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards. Synergi-Leeds, a collaborative initiative working towards racial equity in mental health services, received the Mental Health Innovation of the Year award on November 16, 2023. The partnership also emerged as a finalist in the NHS Race Equality Award category. The HSJ Awards, recognizing exceptional contributions to healthcare, had a record 1,456 entries this year, with Synergi-Leeds standing out among the 223 finalists.
The Synergi-Leeds Partnership traces its origins back to 2017. It began as a cooperative effort between the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds City Council’s Public Health team, and various community and voluntary sector (VCS) services. From these beginnings, it has expanded into an extensive citywide network that includes both statutory and voluntary sector organizations. Their methodology is unique: employing co-produced ‘Creative Spaces Events’ to amplify the voices of those with lived experience, challenging stereotypes, and mobilizing action.
A statement from Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council executive member for adult social care, public health, and active lifestyles, underscores the significance of the recognition: “The partnership is such an integral part of our work in Leeds to ensure our mental health services are for everybody and that we tackle any prejudice, stigma or inequalities in our health systems.” These awards serve as a testament to the team’s dedication to fostering dialogue that explicitly addresses racial equity in mental health.
Tackling Ethnic Inequalities
The Synergi-Leeds Partnership has focused on a critical concern: the disproportionate number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals who encounter crisis mental health services or are detained under the Mental Health Act. To illustrate, Black people are detained under the Mental Health Act more than four times as often as white people, and minority ethnic groups are overrepresented in inpatient and crisis services. This disparity extends to fewer referrals for psychological therapies and less support from GPs prior to hospital admissions.
In response to these disparities, the Synergi-Leeds team has supported significant conversations that explicitly focus on racial equity in mental health. This has had a noteworthy impact, influencing senior leadership across the city. Jim Barwick, Chief executive of Leeds GP Confederation, shared, “Synergi is a powerful piece of work that has influenced the senior leadership in Leeds, including myself.” Such comments reflect the initiative’s deep reach into the fabric of the city’s healthcare leadership.
Sharon Prince, consultant psychologist at the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, dedicates the award to Heather Nelson, late chief executive of the Leeds Black Health Initiative, noting her inspirational commitment to creatively and innovatively address ethnic inequalities. The HSJ Awards judges lauded the partnership’s innovative approach, enthusiasm, and demonstrable positive outcomes, remarking on the exemplary use of the voice of lived experience in their efforts.
Pledges and Progress
The Synergi Leeds team has been pivotal in encouraging key statutory and third sector organizations to endorse the National Synergi Pledge, which focuses on commitments to ameliorate ethnic inequalities in mental health. This pledge has led to actions such as the development of specific anti-racist training for employees and trustees, as noted by Sinead Cregan, Director of Development and Innovation at Inspire North.
The initiative’s influence extends beyond organizational commitments. Their grants programme, now in its first year, has directly benefited 800 individuals and engaged over 5,000 with its projects, a significant proportion of whom hail from minority ethnic backgrounds. The National Synergi Collaborative co-founding agency Words of Colour has also produced a 60-minute documentary detailing the work in Leeds, further amplifying the partnership’s impact. The documentary is available on YouTube here.
The HSJ Awards in Focus
The HSJ Awards are regarded as the most sought-after honor in UK healthcare and represent the largest annual benchmarking and recognition programme for the health sector. Over the past four decades, these awards have celebrated healthcare excellence amidst enormous political, technological, and financial challenges. The winners’ accolade is not only a mark of excellence but also an indicator of dedication and innovation within the NHS and the wider health sector.
The rigorous judging process of the HSJ Awards is both fair and transparent, ensuring that the roll call of awardees truly represents the best in the field. The winners were celebrated at a ceremony at Evolution London on November 16, 2023. More information about the HSJ Awards and their impact on UK healthcare can be found on their official website.
- The Leeds Mental Health Racial Equality Partnership (Synergi-Leeds) won the Mental Health Innovation of the Year award at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards.
- Synergi-Leeds was also a finalist in the NHS Race Equality Award category.
- The partnership was recognized for its efforts in tackling racial inequities in mental health services.
- The Synergi-Leeds Partnership began in 2017 and has expanded into a citywide network of organizations.
- The partnership has focused on addressing the disproportionate number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals in crisis mental health services and detained under the Mental Health Act.