Black people are three times more likely to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals in England and Wales than the rest of the population, the first racial census of inpatient mental health services has found.
Black people are also up to 44 per cent more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act.
They are twice as likely to be referred to mental health services by the police and courts as the rest of the population.
Within psychiatric services black men are about 50 per cent more likely than average to be put into seclusion in a closed room.
Seventy per cent of inpatients from black and minority ethnic communities are being cared for in just 23 of the 212 units analysed, many in inner cities.
“This census demands an explanation. It does not provide one. The job of discovering the reasons behind the data must be undertaken with urgency,” said Sir Ian Kennedy, Healthcare Commission chair and Professor Kamlesh Patel, Mental Health Act Commission chair in a joint foreword to the report.
The census was carried out on March 31 2005 and published today by the Mental Health Act Commission, the Healthcare Commission, and the National Institute for Mental Health in England.
Mental health charities Mind, Rethink and the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health all welcomed the census and called for its disturbing findings to be turned into action.
Health minister Rosie Winterton welcomed the report.
“The results of the census will act as a benchmark for measuring our progress in bringing those inequalities to an end,” she said.
Download the census, Count me in click here