Racial Inequality in Mental Health Care

Earlier today the BBC released a video report on racial inequality in mental health care. BAME communities are not given the time to talk. Wellbeing should not discriminate.

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The BBC released a report titled: BAME communities' 'unequal mental health care' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/vid...

A new report by the Race Equality Foundation has found a wide range of inequalities linked to mental illness in Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities. The BBC video article explores this, expressing that "there’s a greater chance of ethnic minorities overall being offered medication rather than talking therapies for mental health conditions" meaning "they’re also at a higher risk of ending up in crisis care, rather than accessing support sooner through a GP." 

Talking about mental health should not be a racial, economic or religious privilege. Our health care system needs to adapt to cater for a wide range of cultural experiences. 

It is a vast and complex issue, one that Lambeth-based group “Black Thrive” are combating. Their campaign is “a partnership for black wellbeing” that “aims to end the stigma associated with mental health which exists within our community. Black Thrive is looking to champion a movement that ensures the conversations regarding mental health first happen in what should be the safest place for anyone who is suffering, their home.”

Black Thrive research shows that:

  • Black people face an unresponsive system: they are 40% more likely than white people to be turned away from mental health services when they ask for help
  • Detention rates under the mental health act are 44% higher amongst black patients
  • Good mental health is fundamental to good quality of life, and is linked to better cognitive and physical condition and life expectancy

The following are relevant factors:

  • Many black communities have lost trust in services due to experiences of racism and cultural differences
  • Stigma around mental health still exists making it difficult to talk about problems and difficult to seek early help for fear of being given a diagnosis
  • Inequality and discrimination of black communities can lead to increased risk of psychosis
  • There is a lack of black representation in decision-making within the NHS, as well as amongst employees of mental health services
  • A lack of capacity in communities to deliver mental health interventions
  • The majority of health spending is tied up in acute rather than preventative services
  • Difficulty in addressing causal factors for poor mental health such as deprivation and social exclusion, which are disproportionately present in poorer and black communities

(taken from their website https://www.blackthrive.org.uk... visit for sources and more information)

This is only one community, and there are so many other specific minorities that face their own challenges to receiving the proper mental health care. 

The Department of Health and Social Care are trying to address these problems, stating: "we’re all absolutely committed to… ending the unequal treatment of people from ethnic minority backgrounds with mental illness” and are “investing £2.3 billion by 2023/24 to transform mental health care…” (BBC report). 

The future of mental health care needs to be more inclusive and diverse. We can all individually work towards ending stigma surrounding wellbeing by talking about our feelings and creating open, nonjudgmental spaces. Let's Reset support the development of BAME treatment in the mental health sector. 

Grace Proctor, Content Editor.

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