timetochangeUp to 93% of people from Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities who have mental health problems face discrimination because of them, according to new research. 

Worryingly, 73% of respondents to a survey of 740 people from BME communities experiencing mental health difficulties reported having experienced some form of racial discrimination, including 28% in the last year – showing the damaging combination of racial and mental health discrimination that many people have to face. 

The most common areas of mental health discrimination for BME communities are making and keeping friends (68%), being shunned by people that know they have a mental health problem (68%), in finding (68%) and keeping a job (67%) and in social life (67%), meaning mental health problems are becoming life limiting for some people. 

Although stigma and discrimination come from society at large, one third (32%) also say they were treated less favourably by their own communities because of their mental illness due to various social and cultural reasons.

This research, commissioned by mental health anti-stigma campaign Time To Change, suggests that people from BME communities face discrimination in double the number of areas as the wider population. It will now be used as a baseline to monitor whether discrimination within a wider range of communities is reducing as national attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems improve.

A previous Time to Change Viewpoint survey in 2011 questioned a national sample of 1,000 people who accessed secondary mental health services in England, showed reported discrimination in an average of four or five areas of life. Despite the new survey sample being different, some broad comparisons can be made.

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change said, “This [survey] will inform our work and support the work of others who are helping communities start new conversations about mental health and address stigma and taboos in a range of culturally appropriate and effective ways.”

Further reading: Believe the Hype