All staff working in mental health services should receive
compulsory training in “cultural awareness” in a bid to eradicate
the institutional racism and discrimination that ethnic minorities
The recommendation comes as part of a package of measures proposed
to drastically improve mental health services for people from
ethnic minority communities.
“There does not appear to be a single area of mental health care in
this country in which black and minority ethnic groups fare as well
as or better than the majority white community.
“Both in terms of service experience and the outcome of service
interventions, they fare much worse than people from the ethnic
majority do,” states the report from the National Institute for
Mental Health in England.
Inside Outside reveals how rates of compulsory admission are higher
for ethnic minority groups compared with white people, and that the
police are more likely to be involved with these clients. It also
shows how patients from minority ethnic groups are more likely to
be misdiagnosed, prescribed drugs, and readmitted to
The report recommends that cultural competency training is included
in undergraduate programmes that lead to professional
qualifications, as well as in postgraduate and specialist
In addition, it suggests that continuing professional development
should have a multi-cultural focus, and that NHS trusts and social
services departments should monitor cultural competence.
The General Social Care Council said social workers studying for
the Mental Health Award, which is needed to become an approved
social worker, were already required to pass “four stringent
assessed requirements on cultural awareness”, including challenging
discrimination in practice and respecting diverse
The report also recommends the setting up of community development
workers to help mental health organisations bridge the gap between
western models of care and the values of the communities. The
Department of Health has pledged to recruit 500 community
development workers by 2006.
The report adds that the workforce should reflect the community in
which it works, to ensure the recruitment process does not
disadvantage ethnic minority groups.
– Inside Outside from www.nimhe.org.uk/downloads/inside_outside.pdf