A disproportionate number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people are affected by mental distress and continue to face poorer outcomes when accessing and receiving mental health care. They also face higher rates of detention under mental health legislation.
The National Survivor User Network has published a document reviewing the needs of BME health service users. The document A Call for Social Justice Manifesto is based on analysis of consultations done with BME health service users in London over a period of two years. It is significant in terms of being patient-led and patient-focussed so that a picture emerges as you go through the report about how racial inequalities in mental health has developed into a significant issue in the UK.
The report is useful for anyone who works in health and social care as it describes wider socio-economic disparities that contribute to health inequalities. A major problem identified by the report is due to historic neglect and discrimination towards the BME mental health service user, they are more reluctant to access services (due to anticipatory discrimination, the stress of having to deal with prejudice while trying to explain why they need care etc.) and therefore more likely to fall even more ill. The authors also argue that for BME people ‘ … who are women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, the pressures are even more complex …’. The report calls for greater input from patients and wider consultation around socio-economic issues, often a contributory factor to mental health distress. It also puts forward a strong argument for co-production of services directed at tackling the problem.