Detention rates under the Mental Health Act during 2017/18 were four
times higher for people in the ‘Black’ or ‘Black British’ group than their
counterparts in other groups, there is a growing body of research to suggest
that those exposed to racism may be more likely to experience mental health
problems such as psychosis and depression.
BAME communities are also often faced with disadvantages in society. They are more likely to experience poverty, have poorer educational outcomes, higher unemployment, and contact with the CJS, and may face challenges accessing or receiving appropriate professional services.
For example 16 to 24 year olds, unemployment rates are highest for people from a Black background (26%) compared to their counterparts. Even when employed, men and women from some ethnic groups are paid less on average than those from other groups with similar qualifications and experience. Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities consistently have high rates of poverty, as do Black, Chinese and Other ethnic communities. Homelessness is a key issue among minority ethnic groups, with 37% of statutory homeless households from a BAME backgrounds, each of these can act as risk factors for the development of mental health problems.
Different communities understand and talk about mental health in different ways, groups face inequalities in physical and mental health. This can be due to factors like disability, sexuality, gender and age, in some communities mental health problems are rarely spoken about and can be seen in a negative light. This leads to discouragement within the community and creates a stigma pushing many away from talking about their mental health and may be acting as a barrier to engagement with health services.
In 2017, the government announced an independent review of the Mental Health Act, looking to address rising detentions and racial disparity in the use of the Act and concerns about human rights and dignity. The Government has now committed to introducing legislation, changes recommended by the Review set out to give more legal control to people's wishes and preferences, a few key recommendations they look to implement are as follows.
While welcoming many recommendations to increase people's choice and dignity when they are under the Mental Health Act, in addition the focus around race equality in mental health services and in the use of the Act, this clear will and commitment must include that the partners involve building relationships with local communities.