Ethnic leaders call for service reconfiguration

On World Mental Health Day, Black and Minority Ethnic leaders call for service reconfiguration and training to end racism in the NHS

Mind has polled 49 stakeholders from the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Network on the state of mental health services for BME communities today, 9 years on from Rocky Bennett's death [1]. 63 per cent felt that the NHS was no more responsive to the needs of black and minority ethnic patients than 10 years ago. As World Mental Health Day focuses on culture and diversity, mental health services must become culturally sensitive to the needs of BME communities.

BME stakeholders say the most important solutions are at hand. Asked to name the three most important characteristics of a culturally appropriate mental health service:

  • 58 per cent said health care professionals need greater training and awareness of cultural diversity
  • 1 in 4 wanted a greater ethnic mix amongst care staff and senior management
  • 1 in 4 said interpreters and foreign language training for staff were required

The DRE [2] five-year plan to address the disproportionately negative experiences of BME service users has focused on community engagement. But the Network clearly perceives its success to date as limited - 38 per cent felt that people from BME communities did not consult their GP before they reached crisis point due to lack of trust in mental health services and their providers.

Worryingly, 69 per cent felt that the misperception of BME service users as dangerous continues to have an impact on the care they receive. Other concerns were expressed around racial stereotyping from mental health professionals, disparity of care in services and fear of stigma from within the community.
Diverse Mind Manager Marcel Vige said:

"Different communities have different ways of understanding and responding to mental health issues, and often mental health services simply aren’t equipped to deal with cultural differences. The problems aren’t just an issue of funding - a range of responses are needed. It's important that training equips staff to engage with diverse cultures, but what is sorely needed is fundamental change in how services are commissioned, configured and evaluated. This will only happen if such issues are prioritised at the highest levels within mental health services.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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