Research conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that six in ten Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) psychiatrists have experienced racism at work, but only slightly above a quarter have ever reported it.

The racism that the 233 BAME psychiatrists reported took the form of both overt and covert discrimination. Yet when these incidents were reported, more than half said there was no change in behaviour, and no disciplinary action was taken by management.

Data also showed that over a quarter of BAME psychiatrists said that their experiences of racism had impacted their health, and four in ten replied that it had affected their patients.

Following this concerning set of data, the College is calling for extra training covering unconscious bias on decision-making and structural inequality for all mental health staff and further procedures in recording incidents and collecting data about the pervasiveness of discrimination across services.

Equality Action Plan to promote a transformation in the culture of mental health care

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “It’s clear that prejudice and discrimination are deeply embedded across society and sadly even in healthcare. We need to empower mental healthcare staff to report racist incidents while offering assurances that decisive action will be taken when they do.”

“No one should ever have to suffer racism and discrimination at work, it not only affects their own mental health but also the patient care they can provide.”

The College has recently published an Equality Action Plan that aims to address institutional and structural barriers that psychiatrists and trainees experience in their careers and daily employment. The 29 key actions in the report will be rolled out between now and 2023, and include integrating good practice across services, assessing data on the experiences and outcomes of different groups of doctors, and providing extra funding for fellowship schemes for doctors from disadvantaged backgrounds.