Ethnic Minorities 'Face a Mental Health Bias' CALL TO TACKLE INEQUALITIES
Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY
PEOPLE from ethnic minorities in Wales with mental health problems are suffering discrimination in NHS services. Awetu, Wales' only organisation for black and minority ethnic (BME) people affected by mental ill health, said a new report reveals there has been little improvement in addressing long-standing inequalities. The comments come after the Count Me In census, of patients in England and Wales, revealed that the number of patients detained under the Mental Health Act has increased for some BME groups by as much as 70%.
The annual census, which was launched in 2005, provides information about the ethnicity of inpatients in mental health and learning disability services.
The Care Quality Commission, which published the results of the census, has called on organisations beyond the healthcare sector to help improve mental health and wellbeing among BME groups. It said greater understanding is needed about the factors that lead to the variations between the proportions of some ethnic groups on mental health wards.
Suzanne Duval, director of policy at Awetu, said: "The issue of race inequality in Welsh mental health services is routinely ignored.
"The expertise and knowledge of Awetu, and the people we work with, is vital to reducing this discrimination, yet we have to fight constantly to get the voices of BME people heard.
"When standards are set and services are developed consideration of BME people is always an afterthought, if it happens at all."
The Count Me In census involved 32,799 patients, including 2,959 outpatients on a community treatment order, at 261 NHS and independent healthcare organisations in England and Wales. Almost a quarter (23%) were from BME groups.
For learning disabilities, information was obtained from 3,642 patients at 129 organisations in England and Wales; 13% were from BME groups.
The census found admission rates were higher than average among some minority ethnic groups, especially black and mixed race groups.
Rates of detention under the Mental Health Act were also higher than average among the black, white/black Caribbean mixed and other white groups. …