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Mental Health

One of the terms of reference for the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which published its Final Report in December 2018, was to understand and make recommendations about "the disproportionate number of people from black and minority ethnicities detained under the act". The authors of the Final Report described this issue as "one of the most troubling and difficult areas" they considered in conducting the review.

The mental health charity MIND, says Black men and white men experience similar rates of common mental health problems but Black women experience substantially higher rates of them than white women. When it comes to psychosis Black men experience it around 10 times more frequently than white men. But despite Black people, in very, very broad brush terms, having worse experience of mental health than white people, the latter are more than twice as likely to be receiving treatment for mental health problems.

Black people are 40% more likely to access treatment through a police or criminal justice route, less likely to receive psychological therapies, more likely to be compulsorily admitted for treatment, more likely to be on a medium or high secure ward and be more likely to be subject to seclusion or restraint (56.2 per 100,000 population for Black Caribbean as against 16.2 per 100,000 population for white).

In his report "Breaking the Circles of Fear", Dr Frank Keating found that Black people have a strongly grounded fear and mistrust of services (which they perceive as inhumane), resist seeking help and only present in the most aversive of care pathways at the point of crisis. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation:

  • Black men are more likely to have experienced a psychotic disorder in the last year than White men

  • Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than White people

  • Older South Asian women are an at-risk group for suicide

  • Refugees and asylum seekers are more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population, including higher rates of depression, anxiety and PTSD

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