The extent to which mental health care is failing black patients has been laid bare in the latest state of the nation report compiled by the Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC).

‘Is Britain Fairer? 2018’, released today, compares the UK's current record on equality and human rights with the low standard revealed in its previous review, published in 2015.

The EHRC report to the UK Parliament on how far everyone in Britain is able to live free from discrimination and abuses of their human rights.

"Britain’s most at-risk groups of people are in danger of being forgotten and becoming trapped in disadvantage," the organisation warned today.

Individuals identifying as Black or Black British are again shown to be let down in almost every mental health outcome measure.

The report references the Mental Health Foundation in saying that "people in some ethnic minorities are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services". 

A range of findings highlighted in the report show why trust and faith in such services is compromised. It looks at outcomes by "group".

In 2016/17, known rates of Mental Health Act 1983 detention in the Black or Black British group were over four times that of the White group.

Rates of Community Treatment Order use were almost nine times those of the White group.

The use of restrictive interventions on mental health service users is also over three times higher for Black or Black British groups compared with White British.

Mental health 'less likely' to improve

The EHRC also notes the large disparities in the way some ethnic minority groups experience mental health services and treatment.

In England, Black Caribbean patients were more likely to be admitted to hospital than White patients once they had been seen by a Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment team, and Black adults in the general population were the least likely to report being in receipt of any treatment (medication, counselling or therapy).

Having been referred to psychological therapies, both men and women in England were most likely to attain recovery if they were White (British, Irish or Other White) and least likely if they were Bangladeshi, Pakistani, or identified as Other Asian or Other ethnic group (Cabinet Office, 2018).

A Mental Health Act review panel is currently finalising recommendations for improving equality of outcomes for BAME patients that will be shared in December.

Writing in Mental Health Today earlier this year, Jacqui Dyer, co-chair of the of the panel's African and Caribbean group, said her team were "actively considering" proposals outlined by writers of colour published on MHT.

These proposals entailed: BAME representation in all risk assessment decisions; incorporating cultural awareness training in all degrees related to mental health professions; alternatives to the clinical model of crisis care receiving more focus, investment and development.


A spokesperson for the EHRC told Mental Health Today: 

"In order to address the over-representation of people from ethnic minorities among those detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 in England, the UK Government should implement in full the recommendations of the Independent Mental Health Taskforce, including the appointment of an Equality Champion to drive change in tackling mental health inequalities by co-ordinating crossgovernment action."

"To address the key inequalities in health identified in ‘Is Britain Fairer? 2018’, relevant government departments, listed health bodies and inspectorates across Britain should take action under their Public Sector Equality Duty obligations to: substantially reduce detentions under the Mental Health Act 1983 in England, and reduce the over-representation of people from ethnic minorities among those detained."

Image: An event at Number 10 Downing Street earlier this year was convened to discuss inequalities in mental health. The Mental Act Review panel is currently finalising recommendations.