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Does Black and Minority Mental health approach need a different direction?

Despite mental health awareness becoming a topical issue, the BAME community have challenges to overcome through lack of acknowledgement. This is not as clear cut as we would like it to be, and although a full reform may not be achievable, allowing an improvement socially, institutionally and personally can be an important goal to help alleviate circumstances of mental health degradation.

According to Rethink Mental Illness;

  • black women are more likely to experience a common mental illness such as anxiety disorder or depression,

  • older South Asian women are an at-risk group for suicide,

  • black men are more likely to experience psychosis, and

  • black people are more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act

Some of the recommendations made, include; asking for a healthcare professional of a similar background who might be able to navigate around cultural issues.

In 2020, an article was published by Mind emphasising that employment, housing, finances and other issues have a greater impact on mental health within the BAME community. Some of the issues which are faced can be through the cultural barriers, language barriers, lack of qualified professionals within the field and lack of publicity.

Some of the recommendations made, include; asking for a healthcare professional of a similar background who might be able to navigate around cultural issues. This being said, according to the Health & Social Care Information Centre, BAME individuals only account for 9.6% of qualified clinical psychologists in England and Wales.

This is even more complicated through the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be as applicable, due to there being so many nations and cultures incorporated into the word BAME.

Societal issues are incredibly important to understand to help us build the gap to help mental health awareness. Individuals from a BAME background often face greater disadvantages within society, as they are more likely to be;

  • Unemployed

  • Experience poverty and homelessness

  • Be in contact with the criminal justice system

  • Have difficulties accessing services for help.

Moving forward how do we progress.

Firstly, the numbers of people who are qualified to help, need changing. Not only will that play a role in decreasing unemployment rates, but there will be greater access to mental health services as representation of all individuals will be achieved.

Secondly, awareness is key. An important drive behind awareness can be through destigmatising the view people have towards mental health and placing it as important as physical health.

Thirdly, a transition in societal change. With the numbers of members from the so called BAME community predicted to increase, creating a better foundation to build upon is essential to help future generations and advocate for a better system.

And finally, through systematic change itself. As many people have voiced, systematic and institutional discrimination is still an issue which we are tackling within the UK. The importance this can have on allowing support for individuals with unemployment, poverty and criminal justice can help members of the BAME community feel more included and protected within society itself.

Do you have an opinion on this subject? Would you like to join us for the Podcast or send us a question or opinion to share with expert guests? Get in touch.


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