Mental Health in BAME communities

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities make up nearly 20% of the population of England and Wales. It’s important to note that ‘BAME’ covers an extremely diverse range of people, ethnicities, cultures and experiences. There are widely reported inequalities in access to mental health services for many of these communities.

The BABCP highlights that people from BAME communities with mental health problems are less likely to access therapy and also less likely to recover, compared to white majority service users. Additionally, they are more likely to report negative experiences of their time in treatment and view mental health services as hard to access.

Understanding why this inequality exists is crucial. It can help us, as members of society, to raise awareness, support our friends and family, and put pressure on service leaders to be more inclusive.

BAME communities face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to all forms of healthcare and as a result, negatively impact mental health:

  • Racial discrimination
  • Poverty
  • Stigma around mental health
  • Neglect in the criminal justice system
  • ‘Eurocentric’ therapy models

Refugees/Asylum seekers are also more likely to have experienced war and post-migration trauma, such as being separated from family or poor housing.

It’s also essential to discuss the intersectional issues such as gender, sexuality, disability and age and how they factor in, compounding all of the above challenges. For example, being a man and being born in the Republic of Ireland were two risk factors identified for poor mental health and suicide in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington.

There is already some great work being done in your local mental health service to help improve access and engagement with BAME communities.

  • More therapies are now available in multiple languages
  • Increased ethnic diversity of staff
  • Increased equality and awareness training for staff
  • More focus on incorporating patients’ social, community and spiritual/religious beliefs as part of their treatment
  • Directories of organisations to signpost BAME communities to are being developed, that can offer wrap-around and advocacy support
  • More accountability is held on services for providing equality of access to treatment
  • Outreach work in local communities

For more information and support:

Local Mind – Your local Mind provides mental health services and other advisory services, unique and tailored to the communities they serve in England and Wales.

South Asian Health Foundation – promotes improvements in the quality of healthcare to south Asians across the UK.

The Chinese Mental Health Association – represents Chinese mental health issues and provides direct services.

The Ubele Initiative – creates innovative solutions for some of the most pressing social, economic and political concerns affecting the African Diaspora community in the UK.

Spark&Co – resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of BAME communities, amongst other issues.

NHS – find out how to access mental health services in your local area.

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